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Protection Of Children Policy (Ayrshire)

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PROTECTION OF CHILDREN POLICY

Note: Where the document states ‘staff’ this covers all employees/workers and volunteers.

1. The Stepping Stones for Families services to children and young people are provided within the framework of protective childcare legislation and accompanying regulations and guidance.

(Ref: Appendix 1: Legislation and National Guidance)

In cases where Stepping Stones for Families suspects that a child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm, this will be reported to the appropriate authority. Social Services has responsibility to take appropriate action. However, Stepping Stones for Families will take whatever steps are practicable to protect the child.

1.2 Services working with children and young people with additional support needs are urged to ensure that they are, at all times, familiar with the protection policies affecting such children. In particular, it is important to ascertain whether the local authority has personnel who are specifically equipped to ensure that children affected by disability are fully protected by written procedures and professional practices.

(ref: Children (Scotland) Act 1995 s 23)

In the event of concern arising because of the lack of explicit procedures, staff are encouraged to work closely with relevant agencies to draft and implement action plans which can be adopted locally. The development of appropriate skills and knowledge to maximise the protection of children affected by disability must be a priority within the Services.

While child protection must have overriding priority, the child’s race, culture, religion and language as well as gender and disability must also be considered as a priority and appropriately responded to.

The welfare of the child is paramount.

1.3 It is important where ever possible to involve and consult parents/carers at every stage in child protection work, but the principle of working alongside parents must not hamper the paramount objective of protecting the child. Where the disclosure alleges abuse by a parent or other relative, the matter must not be raised directly with the parent as this may cause further harm to the child.

All staff must allow the interests of a child to be considered distinctly from the interests of the parents or other carers.

Priority over all other work will be given to the action necessary to protect a child when there is possible evidence of child abuse.

The basis of an effective child protection service must be that professionals and individual agencies work together on a multi-disciplinary basis, with a shared mutual understanding of aims, objectives and what is good practice. This should take into account the sensitive issues associated with gender, race, language, culture and disability. Staff are expected to co-operate with the Inter-Agency Framework to ensure best practice.

(See Appendix 2: Integrated Assessment Framework)

2 THE NATURE OF CHILD ABUSE

2.1 What is Child Abuse?

Where a child’s basic needs are not being met in a manner appropriate to his/her stage of development and he/she will be at risk of avoidable acts of omission or commission on the part of his/her parents, sibling(s), other relative(s) or a carer. To define an act of omission as abusive and/or presenting future risk a number of elements can be taken into account. These include demonstrable or predictable harm to the child that must have been avoidable because of action or inaction by the parent or other carers.

Categories of Registration

:

Physical Injury

Actual or attempted physical injury to a child, including the administration of toxic substances, where there is knowledge, or reasonable suspicion, that the injury was inflicted or knowingly not prevented.

Physical Neglect

This occurs when a child’s essential needs are not met and this is likely to cause

impairment to their physical health and development. Such needs include food clothing, cleanliness, shelter and warmth. A lack of appropriate care, including deprivation of access to health care, may result in persistent or severe exposure, through negligence, to circumstances that endanger the child.

Sexual Abuse

Any child may be deemed to have been sexually abused when any person(s), by design or neglect exploits the child, directly or indirectly, with any activity intended to lead to the sexual arousal or other form of gratification of that person or any other person(s) including organised networks. This definition holds whether or not there has been genital contact and whether or not the child is said to have initiated or consented to the behaviour.

Emotional Abuse

Failure to provide for the child’s basic emotional needs such as to have a severe effect on the behaviour and development of the child.

Non-Organic Failure to Thrive

Children who significantly fail to reach normal growth and developmental milestones

(i.e. physical growth, weight, motor, social and intellectual development) where physical and genetic reasons have been medically eliminated and a diagnosis of non-organic failure to thrive has been established.

CHILDREN AT RISK OF ANY OF THE ABOVE

2.2 Evidence

2.2.1 There will be some cases of child abuse in which a child is seen on a single occasion to have injuries which immediately arouse suspicion that they are of non-accidental origin. In these circumstances, the injuries are direct evidence of child abuse which should immediately set in train an investigation within each local authority’s Child Protection procedures – copy of which all Services must have.

2.2.2 However, all staff must understand that child abuse is seldom as simple as that. Very often abuse can be fully understood and recognised only in an historical context, and evidence of child abuse must be seen as cumulative. It is not just what is occurring now which should be judged as possible evidence of child abuse, but also what is known from the child’s history. It is, therefore, very important that Services keep records in such a way that cumulative evidence of possible child abuse can be discerned. Often Social Services will be building a picture of abuse from a variety of sources of information, and the sharing by Services makes a significant contribution to this profile.

2.2.3 Not all evidence will be based on overtly physical symptoms or by a child reporting information. For staff working with children affected by disability or where the child does not communicate in English, it will be necessary to find relevant and appropriate ways of communicating with the child.

It is therefore important to record observations and include these in portfolios, childrens’ records and chronologies of significant events.

2.3 Alleged Perpetrators

2.3.1 Messages from research confirms that a person who perpetrates child abuse can be anyone including a natural parent or relative, foster carer, respite carer, adopter, member of staff, teacher, natural or foster sibling, friend, neighbour or someone unknown to them. There is increasing evidence of children and young people abusing other children and young people.

2.3.2 When a child has been abused, consideration will be given to the role of others in the household. Some Parents / Carers will have been totally unaware of the abuse and will need support themselves to help them come to terms with it. Others may have co-operated with or been coerced into accepting the abuse.

2.3.3 All members of staff should be alert to any indication that a colleague is behaving inappropriately in respect of a child or young person. Any such suspicion should be discussed with a senior member of staff who should consider it in the context of the Whistleblowing Policy. (Ref: Appendix 3)

3 DUTIES AND POWERS

3.1 Local Authority Social Services has a duty to make enquiries (or cause to be investigated) all cases of suspected child abuse.

Stepping Stones for Families staff holding evidence of possible child abuse should, therefore, direct this information to Social Services. The Reporter to the Children’s Panel has the responsibility of deciding whether a child is in need of compulsory measures of supervision, and whether there is evidence to support a referral to the Children’s Hearing. Where there is evidence of possible child abuse, Stepping Stones for Families staff may also consider a direct referral to the Reporter to the Children’s Panel.

3.2 Staff have a responsibility to take steps to protect children from abuse. All members of staff should feel able to act in good faith on their own initiative to take immediate, common sense steps and make common sense decisions to protect a child, without fear of censure from the organisation. Ensure Policies and Procedures are followed and that two members of staff work together to witness actions taken and provide mutual support.

3.3.1 Stepping Stones for Families staff have a role to play in enabling evidence of abuse to be clarified. Members of staff need to understand how they should respond in these situations so that they enable children to express what they want to say without the child fearing that they will be disbelieved or silenced. However, staff should not question or start an investigation. It is important to listen to children.

Reference Children’s Charter and Framework for Standards.

Reference should also be made to the local authority’s guidelines:

Protecting Children Information for Service Providers

South Ayrshire: Pages 4 – 6

Glasgow: Pages 8 – 11

4 GENERAL PROCEDURAL REQUIREMENTS

4.1 Working co-operatively with Local Authorities Social Services

To aid communication all Managers should negotiate to have a named contact person in each local authority Social Services in which the Service works with whom they seek to establish a formal link and ensure that there is an understanding of accountability and anticipated procedural steps.

Each Service should have information available to all staff about the referral process and contact details for social services in their local authority.

Access to relevant inter-agency child protection training should be sought.

4.2 Children Affected by Disability

It is now acknowledged that children affected by disability are particularly vulnerable to abuse in any and all its forms. A prime responsibility of Managers is to ensure that, in its routine practice, the Service both remains vigilant to the possibility of a child being abused and minimises situations of risk.

The life experiences of many such children can all too easily limit the opportunities they have to confide in trusted adults. Where there are difficulties in communication, such a situation is merely exacerbated. Consequently it is essential that expressions (or even physical evidence) of distress, discomfort or pain are not simply attributed to the disability, without careful judgement of other possible explanations. Managers will therefore be required to determine the extent to which staff (including paid carers) should undertake specific training on the issue of abuse and additional support needs.

4.3 Copies of the Procedure

Each Manager must ensure that the Service has copies of the Child Protection procedures for:

• the authority in which the Service is situated

• the authorities with whom the Service works in partnership

• the authority on whose child protection register a child attending the Service is named

• the authority for a particular household where there is a child attending the Service who has been identified as being at potential risk if he/she were to return to that household

4.4 Child Protection Statement for Service Users

All Services must have a statement setting out their child protection approach within the context of the overall philosophy and practice of the work of the Service and the organisation’s policy statement.

This statement should be reviewed as required. The purpose of this statement is:

• to provide information for users on the responsibilities of, and approach taken by, the Service in the protection of children. The statement should be part of the process of sharing information with the users of our services

• to provide information and guidance for staff as to the responsibilities and expectations of the Service in carrying out child protection functions

When Service statements are reviewed they are to be looked at within the context of their primary use as being for service users. All staff, parents and young people should receive a copy of the Services’ statement.

4.5 Training

It is the responsibility of the Senior Management Team to ensure that staff have the training necessary to effectively carry out the Organisation’s Child Protection procedures. The Training Plan should include training for all staff. Each Service is required to hold an annual training day on Child Protection. Supervision and Staff Development Reviews should identify training needs and particular attention must be paid to Child Protection training.

4.6 Information to Staff

All staff will be made aware of the Organisation’s Child Protection Policy and Managers will ensure induction includes all aspects of the child protection policy and procedure. They must then receive opportunities in work meetings / supervision or other in-service training contexts to discuss child protection.

Children and families who attend Stepping Stones for Families services will be involved in discussions and activities which relate to the protection of children with reference to the Children’s Charter.

4.7 Records and Cumulative Evidence

Records are available to children and parents and should be written to take account of this. It is important parents know they can access records and they should be encouraged to do so. Managers and Child Care Managers must ensure that records are kept in such a way that cumulative evidence of possible child abuse can be clearly discerned by using the Integrated Assessment Framework Chronology of Significant Events form. This charts strengths as well as pressures within family circumstances. It is essential for all Services that any noticeable change of behaviour or appearance associated with the child’s welfare is systematically recorded. Good practice in all Services requires that recorded information is reviewed to detect progress or to discern patterns which shed light on a child’s welfare. The record may reveal, for example, an abnormal frequency of minor bruising with plausible explanations, changes in mood or behaviour correlating with changes in home circumstances, or several complaints of genital soreness. For pre-school children, when growth is so rapid, any developmental milestone charts of height and weight which are kept show up both irregularities in development and comparisons with the norm. Records must record positive and negative development signs.

It is possible, although unlikely, that the record will of itself reveal possible evidence of child abuse. It is more likely that suspicion will arise in the minds of professional staff who will then turn to the record to find collaborative evidence.

Helpful Guidance Documents

Data Protection Act;

Good Practice Guidance re Information Sharing

Records must, therefore, be factual with clear dates and times so that they may be used as evidence in Court if this proves necessary. They should be signed by the person who wrote them and dated. The Human Rights Act guarantees confidentiality which will mean that there will be limited access to the records. In accordance with good supervisory practice, Managers must read and countersign all child protection records.

Records need to reflect all the work which is being done by staff and should also indicate working arrangements with staff in other Agencies. Where a child is or was the subject of a child protection investigation the importance of recording at all stages of the child protection process cannot be over-emphasised. The records should contain clear details of the investigation, assessments, the decisions agreed, the basis on which they were made and the plan on which work is based. The responsibility for managing the implementation of the procedures rests with the Manager.

4.8 Significant Case Review/Critical Incident Review

A review will be held following the death of a child or serious injury to a child when child abuse is confirmed or suspected. Should such a review be about a child known to Stepping Stones for Families there will be full co-operation with the review.

As soon as such a situation is identified the Manager, or in their absence, the Chief Executive Officer / Delegated Worker, should immediately ensure that all of the files and notes relating to the child are secured.

Each Agency should participate in an Inter-Agency Significant Case Review/Critical Incident Review to establish:

• whether the Organisation’s child protection procedures have been followed

• whether the case suggests that there is an urgent need to review those procedures

• whether any other action is needed within the Organisation.

The overall purpose of the review by each organisation should be to secure the best possible quality of services for children and their families. The specific action should have the following main objectives:

• to establish a factual chronology of the action which has been taken within the Organisation

• to assess whether decisions and actions taken in the case appear to have been in line with the policy and procedure within that Organisation

• to consider what services were provided in relation to the decisions and actions in the case

• to recommend appropriate action in the light of the review’s findings.

The Care Commission requires to be informed – follow relevant procedure.

5 ACTION ON OCCURRENCE OR SUSPICION OF CHILD ABUSE

5.1 Immediate threat

Where there is an immediate threat to the child, where possible, two members of staff involved should:

• respond to secure the safety of the child

• consult with a senior member of staff if possible

• following consultation implement the local child protection procedures

• write down immediately what they saw or were told and what they did, using the form provided.

The pre-referral form (pink form) and Action Chart (green) should be used.

(Ref: Appendix 4 Recording)

5.2 Any child for whom there is concern

When any member of staff believes they have witnessed possible evidence of child abuse, they must inform the most senior member of staff in the Service immediately. By “witness” is meant, for example, observing a suspicious mark on a child, observing sexualised behaviour, relating something a child says to other recent events ( ie putting “two and two together”) or discerning a worrying pattern from reading the records.

Outwith Office Hours staff should contact their Line Manager.

If unavailable, contact the Chief Executive Officer (Tel: 07764 826 725).

If unavailable, contact Social Work Standby (Tel: 0800 811 505)

5.3 Information about possible child abuse has to be set in the context of the particular situation. Discussion with other relevant people must result in a decision about whether the information is possible evidence of abuse. Faced with information which is possible evidence of child abuse, the Manager or senior member of staff has no choice other than to relay the information with the full historical context to the Social Services contact person. In Child Protection work, reporting must always supersede the need for confidentiality.

There should be discussion about whether an investigation in accordance with local child protection procedures is necessary. This must be done on the same working day, except by agreement with the Chief Executive Officer/ Delegated Worker.

The Social Services will consider what investigation to carry out and this may be discussed with the referrer. Reference should be made to the child protection procedures. The referral should be notified to the Chief Executive Officer.

5.4 If the discussion with Social Services results in the decision that an investigation is required by Social Services, Stepping Stones will make appropriate resources available where relevant.

5.5 Particular difficulties arise when a child alleges abuse and clearly does not want an investigation to ensue or when there is an admission by a young perpetrator because no guarantees of confidentiality can be given to children and young people wanting to disclose abuse. Such disclosures must be discussed immediately with the senior member of staff on duty and a strategy for managing the situation discussed with Social Services.

The management of such situations will depend on good inter-agency co-operation and Services should endeavour to clarify with Social Services how such issues can be handled sensitively.

5.6 Particular care is needed where child abuse is alleged to have been carried out by another child or young person. In these situations it is important that the child protection procedures are instigated for both the victim and the alleged abuser.

5.7 Close co-operation between agencies is essential within the local guidelines in collating evidence. Follow Integrated Assessment Framework procedure (see Appendix 2)

5.8 Referrals of possible child abuse to Social Services made verbally must always be confirmed in detail in writing by the next working day. The report/referral should contain details of the evidence received by the Service (including cumulative evidence) with appropriate dates, times, action taken and the names and designations of people contacted, together with any outcome known at that stage.

The Inter-Agency referral form should be used.

5.9 The evaluation of evidence is ultimately the responsibility of the Reporter in those cases that are referred to him / her. Workers should bear in mind that any person can make a referral to the Reporter.

5.10 It is essential that all records are stored appropriately. It is vital that all staff observe good practice in administrative and clerical matters. Good practice requires that copies of all correspondence and messages should be kept and immediately placed on file. Relevant administrative staff should be informed when an actual or potential case of child abuse is being dealt with.

5.11 The Manager must ensure that there is good communication with the Social Services to clarify what process is being followed and the role expected of Stepping Stones for Families. It is important to ascertain if there will be meetings such as a Case Conference.

Whatever the outcome of the Social Services investigation, written confirmation of the Social Services action should always be sought by the Manager. This may take the form of formal Case Conference minutes. If this is not forthcoming, the Manager should write formally stating his / her understanding of the position.

5.12 The Manager needs to feel satisfied in respect of:

5.12.1 what action Social Services will be taking, in the light of its investigation, to protect the child in the interim period before a case conference.

5.12.2 what action Social Services expects of Stepping Stones for Families. Social Services will be responsible for convening a case conference.

6 ACTION WHERE A CHILD IS ON THE CHILD PROTECTION REGISTER

Where it is found that a child in a Service is already on the child protection register when attending the Service, it is essential that the Manager notifies Social Services and obtains the fullest information. Particular attention should be paid to getting agreements in writing, as to the role of Stepping Stones for Families. Where the agreement is not written, the Manager should confirm by letter the role Stepping Stones for Families will take.

Note: This requirement may pose difficulties in some types of work, eg community activities, drop-ins etc, and these should be discussed with the Chief Executive Officer.

7 CASE MANAGEMENT AND SUPPORT FOR STAFF

7.1 If a child protection conference is called, the Manager or other appropriate designated member/s of staff will normally be expected to attend. If the child is placed on the child protection register, the name and address of the child protection key worker in the case should be established and clearly recorded in the Services records.

7.2 Stepping Stones for Families staff should not assume the role of key worker for the purposes of child protection. The key worker is a Lead Professional from either Social Services, Health or Education – usually Social Services. Stepping Stones for Families do have a responsibility to know and work with the child protection plan and understand their role. Managers should ensure that there is an appropriate person at all meetings.

7.3 The management of the case will be agreed at the case conference and will be recorded in the case conference minutes. It is the responsibility of the Manager to ensure that the role outlined for Stepping Stones for Families in the case conference, is carried out on a day to day basis.

7.4 Providing grounds can be demonstrated and confirmed with the Manager, Stepping Stones for Families staff may, in certain circumstances, dissent from a Child Protection case conference decision. In terms of good practice, a member of staff who finds her/himself in this situation should make their position clear at the case conference requesting that it be minuted. If there is dissent minuted, Social Services have a procedure to investigate this. Staff who dissent should discuss it with their Manager at the earliest opportunity.

Reference Guide:

Protecting Children Information for Service Providers – South Ayrshire Page 11

Protecting Children Information for Service Providers – Glasgow – Page 18

7.5 It is up to the Manager to appraise the Chief Executive Officer / Delegated Worker of difficulties or problems in the area of child protection on a day to day basis if necessary.

7.6 Advice about medical information should be sought if staff need further information or guidance on medical aspects.

7.7 The Manager should ensure that the Service is kept fully informed about a child and the child protection plan. In the event of lack of information or, in the view of the Manager, inadequate practice by the lead worker, the Manager must take this up verbally and in writing with the relevant manager in Social Services. In the absence of a satisfactory situation being established the Manager should take this up with the Stepping Stones for Families Chief Executive Officer / Delegated Worker as a matter of priority.

7.8 Support for staff

Child Protection can be challenging and stressful.

Stepping Stones for Families recognises that while staff may be competent and feel confident in exercising their professional judgement when undertaking this work, they should always have access to support. The stressful nature of the work should not be underestimated. Managers must assess each situation and consider debriefing; the need for additional supervision; training etc.

7.9 Stepping Stones for Families expects all staff to comply with this Policy and Procedure. Advice should always be sought from Manager, Senior Worker or Chief Executive Officer.

Stepping Stones for Families

Child Protection Statement for Service Users

“Our vision is that all children and young people have an enjoyable life in a healthy, fair and safe environment where they are respected and supported to achieve their full potential”

Stepping Stones for Families recognises that Parents / Carers are often under pressure in different ways which can make it hard to care for their children as well as they would like. Parents / carers often have little control over matters which create a safe environment for their children.

If, during the course of our work, we come across a child who we think is being, or has been, abused, we will try and find out more about the situation by talking to parents and other people who play a part in the child’s life, unless we believe that this would cause harm to the child.

Stepping Stones for Families is committed to protecting children and recognises the risk of putting adults and children together. In this respect the organisation has introduced a Whistleblowing Policy which encourages staff to report any concerns they may have about the behaviour / conduct of a colleague.

If we are concerned that the child is being, or has been, abused we have to notify the Social Services, and they will investigate the situation and decide what will happen next.

If we have been working with the family, we will continue to support them throughout any investigation (if they want us to).

We will deal with information about families in strict confidence unless our duties under child protection require us to make a referral to Social Services and/or Police.

Being a Parent / Carer can be a difficult job and many parents struggle to cope at times. We would like parents to talk to us if they feel that they are finding it hard to cope with their children. We are here to help.

Stepping Stones for Families believes that by working in partnership with service users and relevant agencies we can help to keep children safe. Other support services in place for anyone worried about the protection of children are Childline 0800 1111 or Parentline Scotland on 0808 800 2222.

We have a copy of the local Child Protection Committee’s Protecting Children Information for Service Providers (on display), and a Child Protection Policy which is available to read, (please ask).

Children and families who attend our services will be involved in discussions and activities which relate to children’s protection with reference to the Children’s Charter. Ref: Protecting Children and Young People: The Charter (Scottish Executive, March 2004)

APPENDIX 1

PROTECTION OF CHILDREN –

LEGISLATION AND NATIONAL GUIDANCE

Copies of legislation and reports can be found on the Scottish Government website – unless otherwise stated this is where copies can be accessed.

LEGISLATION

Children (Scotland) Act 1995 – the key legislation, in addition there is guidance and regulations

(note regulations are statutory/legal requirements)

Children and Problematic Substance Use

Getting Our Priorities Right (2003) – The definitive guide for professionals working with problem drug using parents

Hidden Harm (2003) – Publication from the Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs estimating over 300,000 children in the UK affected by parental substance misuse

Hidden Harm (2004) – The response of the Scottish Executive to the ACMD publication

Hidden Harm Next Steps (2006) – Scottish Executive update

Hidden Harm – 3 Years On (2006) – Realities, Challenges and Opportunities

Getting It Right for Every Child

Implementation Plan (2006) – The proposals for action from the Scottish Executive

Integrated Assessment Framework (2005) – The process and content of an integrated framework and the implications for implementation

Child Protection

It’s everyone’s job to make sure I’m all right (2003) Report of the child protection audit and review

For Scotland’s Children (2001) – Better Integrated children’s services

Protecting children and young people (2004) – Framework for Standards

Protecting children and young people (2004) – The Charter

Rights of the Child

United Nations (1990) – Convention on the Rights of the Child

APPENDIX 2

NOTES ON INTEGRATED ASSESSMENT FRAMEWORK

Introduction

The Scottish Government sees the Integrated Assessment Planning and Recording Framework as providing one of the building blocks for the wider range of policy developments moving towards greater integration of children’s services. It will underpin the education (Additional Support for Learning) Act 2004, The Children’s Hearing System, Youth Justice, The Inclusion Agenda, The Child Protection Reform Programme, Hidden Harm, Getting Our Priorities Right and other initiatives and will underpin the principles of Getting it Right for Every Child.

The Integrated Assessment Framework is a fully co-ordinated systematic approach to the gathering, recording and evaluation of information in relation to children in need or at risk of harm. It will result in an agreed multi-agency action plan, which will be jointly resourced and reviewed.

The framework is based on health, education and social work services working together with shared responsibility. This innovative work to improve outcomes for the most vulnerable children through better integrated children’s services adheres to the principle of 1 child → 1 assessment → 1 action plan. The assessment model promotes the systematic early identification of concerns about a child by all agencies from pregnancy onwards.

Parents and professionals are continuously engaged in assessment in their interactions with children. From the birth of a child, parents and professionals draw on information to judge the most appropriate responses to needs and behaviour. Every action should be supported by assessment that suits the situation, however brief, simple or informal. When doing so the child’s views will be sought and considered.

The Integrated Assessment Framework Model should not be viewed as a document on a shelf but rather the beginning of a process, which will allow exploration and sharing of observations and jointly consider what this means for each child and family in our locality in terms of the support they may need to grow and develop. The Framework supports the community and Children’s Service Planning.

Vision

Children’s services has set out its expectations and aspirations for ensuring that all children, including unborn children and young people are valued and that they are safe, nurtured, healthy, achieving, active, respected and responsible and included.

An Integrated Assessment Framework will be an essential means by which Health, Education and Social Work Services evidence progress with the Scottish Government integration agenda.

The Framework has the potential to turn into reality for the most vulnerable children the Government’s vision of a Scotland where every child matters, where every child regardless of their family background, has the best possible start in life.

Aims and Objectives of the Integrated Assessment Framework

The aim of the Integrated Assessment Framework is to ensure that children, including unborn children and young people receive the services they need when they need them. This will be done by:

¨ Helping to protect children by identifying need at an early stage, assessing their support requirements and jointly planning to maximise their potential and strengthen support networks

¨ Developing support packages adopting a whole child approach by named professionals from health, education and social work, working as a team, to address unmet needs and reduce risks in the context of the child’s family and social circumstances

¨ Assisting the process of protecting children by improving the speed and quality of information sharing on which assessments, plans, decisions and interventions are based

Underlying Principles

The key principles, which underpin the Integrated Assessment Framework are that it:

  • Applies to all children
  • Is child centred, aiming to serve the best interest of the child or young person
  • Promotes the upbringing of a child by their family in as far as this is consistent with their welfare
  • Identifies needs and risks in relation to a child in the context of their family, significant people in the child’s life and their community
  • Seeks the earliest, most effective, appropriate and least intrusive response to needs
  • Is carried out in partnership with the child, their family, and other significant people in the child’s life, balancing rights and responsibilities
  • Recognises and values the contribution that children, their families and different agencies can make to an assessment and action plan.
  • Includes the views of the child or the young person in accordance with their age, level of understanding and the views of the family and others who are significant in a child’s life, ensuring they understand and agree the aims of the assessment
  • Brings together professionals to work to ensure that the ongoing assessment process is based on evidence and focuses on:

• Personal and family strengths

• Support networks and resources available

• Evidence of needs and risks

• The gaps that need to be filled and the resources and options to fill them

• Continuity and progression, especially at times of transition

  • Takes account of all aspects of the child’s life, respecting rights and diversity, recognising communication or religious, cultural and spiritual needs in order to prevent discrimination
  • Is based on evidence and links clearly to theoretical frameworks and research findings about effective interventions
  • Ensures that assessments of children are undertaken on the basis of an equal partnership approach by health, education and social work involving professionals from other agencies and linking to specialist assessments as required
  • Identifies one agency as the Lead Agency to ensure clear lines of accountability

APPENDIX 3

WHISTLEBLOWING POLICY

Sounding the alarm to protect children and young people from harm.

Introduction

This appendix applies solely to concerns about standards of practice in direct work with children, vulnerable adults and carers and should be read alongside the Child Protection

Policy and the Whistleblowing Policy

The Public Interest Disclosures Act 1998 addresses whistleblowing, and Stepping Stones for Families policies comply with this legislation. Stepping Stones for Families relies on the dedication, professionalism and skill of its staff. However, it recognises that there may be an occasion when you will be concerned about a colleague’s standard of practice. You may even be concerned a child is being abused. In most circumstances you should try and talk to your line manager about this. However, if you feel that this is not possible, for example, when it is felt the line manager is involved in or colluding with the concern, you should “blow the whistle” and contact a senior member of staff. We will take genuinely held concerns seriously and act quickly and appropriately.

Will I be victimised for speaking out?

Any attempt to victimise staff for raising genuine concerns or to prevent such concerns being raised will be regarded as a disciplinary matter.

How do I raise concerns?

Either with your line manager or where you feel unable to speak to your manager, with any other member of staff who you feel would be in a position to assist. Such staff may include a more senior line manager, managers in other workplaces, or directly with the Chief Executive Officer. If you feel unable to raise your concern under the Whistleblowing Policy, you may seek advice from Public Concern at Work, a charity which offers free, confidential legal advice on serious concerns within the workplace, (0207 404 6609).

What proof do I need?

You are not required to prove your suspicions but it will be necessary to demonstrate some substance to the concern before action can be taken.

What if I don’t want my identity disclosed?

You should make your wishes known to the manager, or other person with whom you raise your concerns. We will make every effort to protect confidentiality. If this is not possible, for example, if you are asked to give evidence, you will be told and we will discuss the action with you and ensure you are supported.

What happens when I raise my concerns?

This will depend largely on the nature of the concerns you raise. However, in all cases the person looking into the concerns will arrange to meet you as soon as possible and away from the workplace, if necessary, to enable you to explain fully what your concerns are and why you have them.

We will ask you how you wish to see the concern resolved and whether you would want to be told about how we will conduct the investigation. The manager will tell you either at that meeting, or as soon as possible afterwards, what action will be taken in response to the issues you have raised. You will be told of the outcome of any investigation into your concerns. Sometimes, however, it may not be possible to reveal the full extent of the investigation where this relates to personal issues involving a third party. Where action is not taken, you will be given an explanation.

Can I bring someone to support me when I discuss my concerns?

Yes, but because issues raised under the Whistleblowing Policy will often be of a sensitive nature, you should discuss the matter with as few people as possible.

How long will it take for my concerns to be addressed?

This will depend on the nature of the issues you raise. Wherever possible, the matter will be addressed within 28 days of your raising it.

What can I do if I am unhappy with the response?

If you do not agree with the way your concerns have been dealt with by Management, you may in the first instance notify the Board of Directors. Thereafter, you may seek advice from Public Concern at Work (0207 404 6609).

APPENDIX 4

RECORDING

Case Files/Portfolios:

  • must be stored in a secure place
  • must be well structured
  • must have significant information recorded immediately
  • have key information on the top of the case file/Portfolio

(name and up to date contact details)

  • have a Chronology of Significant Events (inside cover left hand side)
  • have current service/inter-agency care plan (inside cover right hand side)
  • Section 1: Record of Contact (most recent on top)
  • Section 2: Referral; Assessment, Planning and Review Documents
  • Section 3: Correspondence
  • Section 4: Confidential Information eg third party information
  • Section 5: Any other relevant information
  • must comply with current legislation re records; access and data protection

There are a number of important reasons for recording:

  • as a formal record of the Service’s involvement
  • as a statement of the purpose of the work
  • as a way of recording plans and monitoring progress
  • to facilitate communication between Agencies and Services
  • to promote continuity of practice
  • as a documentary record of part of the history of the service user/family
  • to assist planning, assessment and decision making processes
  • to assist in the process of supervision by supporting the worker’s practice
  • to promote accountability between the service user/family/carer
  • to evidence the work undertaken and any assessments completed
  • to monitor the progress of care plans
  • to give a structure so that work is focused and relevant

When you are recording make sure:

  • you use clear, plain, jargon-free language – avoid slang and colloquialisms
  • your records are concise and accurate (true record of information given; relevant to

current intervention; names spelled consistently accurate throughout

  • you differentiate between facts, opinion and professional judgement – if an opinion

is recorded – state whose opinion it is

  • you include both pressures and strengths within the family
  • you remain objective
  • you critically read what you have written to ensure the information meets good recording practice standards
  • your records are up to date
  • your records are purposeful – who ? why? where? when? what? how?
  • your records are dated and legibly signed
  • you record contact with other Agencies and the content of the discussion

Sharing information:

Personal information about children and families held by professionals is subject to a duty of confidence, and should normally not be disclosed without their consent. However, the law permits the disclosure of confidential information necessary to safeguard a child. Where you suspect a child may be at risk of harm – your duty to report this child supersedes
the duty of confidentiality

For further information refer to ‘Sharing Information about Children at Risk of Abuse or Neglect’ – A Guide To Good Practice’ (on server)

Chronology of Significant Events:

  • access form and guidance notes on server


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