How Important Is It to Maintain Confidentiality in a Childcare Setting?

How important is it to maintain confidentiality in a childcare setting? When in a childcare setting it is vital to maintain confidentiality in different areas not just for the Child’s welfare but the families as well! Confidential information must not be shared outside of the setting E. G family or friends.

The following examples are to be kept confidential; enrolment forms, family’s health insurance information, health screenings and records, including immunization records, emergency contact information, contact information for those authorized to pick up child, emergency care consent forms , consent forms (permission slips) for outings or special activities, names of regular medical or dental providers who know the child, nutritional restrictions, progress reports, child observation logs, parent conference logs, medication logs, documentation of medical, behavioural or developmental evaluations, referrals or follow-ups, addressing issues relevant to the child’s participation in the program, documentation of any injury occurring at the program site and the steps taken to address the situation.

While the rights and desires of families to keep their personal details private are important, there are also some circumstances under which identifying information should be shared for example; Program staff and the “need to know (might have a dietary or medical requirements so the cook or nurse will need to know) Outbreaks of reportable illness or Outbreaks of reportable illness as the information might be vital and used to saved the children’s life or keep them healthy. One way to differentiate whether the information is confidential or not would be to think “Is this common knowledge or do I know it because my position in the setting” as all children, families and young people have a right to confidentiality.

So always ask your supervisor if you aren’t sure about what information is appropriate to disclose to different people. In addition all information needs to be store properly- in a secure place. If this isn’t possible make sure you don’t discuss the information apart from those directly responsible for the care of the child. Technology is advancing but this still doesn’t escape the laws. There is legislation that defines in what ways personal information can be used; The Data Protection Act 1998 (was created to protect individual’s rights and to prevent breaches or information. )

It applies whether or not they are kept on the computer Maintaining confidentiality protects children and their families from gossip but also prevents situations of an abuser mounts a legal defence based on tampering of evidence so it is essential that you don’t talk to anyone other than those directly involved about your concerns or about what a child has told you. As anything you learn about children or their families or other during the course of your practice is likely to be very confidential. When working with other professional it is most likely you will hear comments and remarks that aren’t anticipated to be repeated outside of the meeting/ conversation. You may be given documents that cover sensitive areas- this means that you need to keep the information confidential but also in a safe and secure lock up.

Photography is an ever increasing technology and can be a brilliant way to have evidence for observations or practical’s but there are some basic rules that you have to follow to maintain confidentially when taking photographs; ALWAYS Have permission from the parents of the child that you a photographing, Only use a school camera as this ensures that the photographs don’t make it out of the school, although the parent says it okay the child might not when you are taking the photo always keep this in mind, If the parent(s) don’t want their child to be in the picture then make sure that they STAY OUT of it or you can cut/ bur them out of the photo.

When doing observations you need to maintain confidentiality in the following ways; only using the Childs first names, change the children’s names if they are unusual or could lead to the child be identified in any way, give the type of setting rather than the name of the settings EG “a primary school” rather than “The John Warner primary school”.

Write the children’s age as years and months rather than the date of birth as they can be easily identified, photographic records should not be used unless permission is gained from the child’s parents and the setting lastly make sure the files have a contacting telephone number so they can be returned safely if lost. Lastly it is vital that as a practitioner that we maintain confidentiality as our main priority is the welfare of child and their development. If you breach confidentiality then you are putting the child at a very high risk, whether this is of kidnapping, sexual, emotional or physical abuse, there are laws and moral rules for a reason as it should be the child’s interest at heart at all times. Secondly you should always maintain confidentiality to keep a good relationship with the parents.

You are in charge of the apple of their eye and they are trusting you with the Childs life thus it is vital to maintaina good and healthy relationship with the child’s parents. If you don’t this might result with them taking them out of the current school and you losing your job. Overall you should always make sure that the person who is picking the child up has the right of access as this could lead into very bad situations of the child being abducted. It is vital that you don’t break the trust with the family. The child might suffer abuse so you should take the right steps (Talking to your child protection officer) and no one else unless directly involved with the child’s welfare.

When passing on information make it is to the correct people as the child might not be telling the truth and putting the child and family in danger for no reason. Don’t repeat anything your team says that you think is confidential. If you hear something that is being talked about them distract them- if it is a parent just talk to them about how well their child is doing but if it is a member of staff take them to one side and talk to them. With any serious or sensitive issues with children ( break ups, deaths etc... ) then you need to tell your supervisor immediately and instead of asking the child to tell you a good way to get their emotions out is to write it down ( if old enough). Always ensure that children’s names are remained confidential e. g. ; in observations etc...

If you are going arrange to talk to anyone about a confident matter then always arrange a confidential area so no one will come in and hear/ see what you are discussing. Always obtain permission for photographs/ videos of a child. Make sure there is no mistrial as to many questions could lead a child on and not tell the truth, get a professional in to deal with the matter. Lastly the data protection acts has 8 principles that state all about maintain confidentially with any documentation in any situation, this is the law. Overall it is vital that you as a professional practitioner you always maintain confidentiality of the setting/ children/ families as it can put many people at risk or a endless list of dangers.

Sarah from Law Aspect

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