Question 1 Outline current policies and legislation relating to children and how these affect your practice. Whether you are a headteacher, teacher or teaching assistant you have a vital part to play in protecting and promoting the welfare of the children and young people in your care. Below are some of the policies and legislation that all education professionals should be aware and inform their practice accordingly. The ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ document (2006 revised 2010) looks at how organisations and individuals should work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people in accordance with the Children Act (1989) and the Children Act (2004). It is directed at practitioners and frontline managers who have particular responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, and to senior and operational managers in organisations that are responsible for commissioning or providing services to children, young people, and adults who are parents/carers also organisations that have a particular responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people.
The Children Act (1989) acknowledges that the welfare of the child is fundamental and sets out an overarching system for safeguarding children and the roles different agencies play. It introduced the concept of parental responsibility rather than parental rights. A key principle is that Local Authorities have a duty to provide services for children and their families and all children and young people should have access to the same range of services.
Children Act (2004) updates but does not supersede Children Act (1989). The Act provides a legislative core for the wider strategy for improving children's lives. This covers the universal services which every child accesses, and more focused on services for those with additional needs.
The overall aim is to encourage integrated planning, commissioning and delivery of services as well as improve multi-disciplinary way of working with an increase of accountability and improve the coordination of individual and joint inspections in local authorities. The legislation is enabling rather than prescriptive and provides local authorities with a considerable amount of flexibility in the way they implement its provisions.
The Children Act ( 2004) placed a new duty of care on local authorities to promote the educational achievement of looked after children.
In 2003, the Government published a green paper called ‘Every Child Matters’. This was published alongside the formal response to the report into the death of Victoria Climbié.
There was a wide consultation with people working in children's services, and with parents, children and young people. Following the consultation, the Government published Every Child Matters: the Next Steps, and passed the Children Act 2004, providing the legislative spine for developing more effective and accessible services focused around the needs of children, young people and families under the five Every Child Matters outcomes: Be healthy, Stay safe, Enjoy and achieve, Make a positive contribution and Achieve economic well-being
The Childcare Act ( 2006), was pioneering legislation and the first ever exclusively concerned with early years and childcare. The Act is intended to transform childcare and early years services in England, taking forward some of the key commitments from the ‘The Ten Year Childcare Strategy’ published in December 2004. Measures in the Act formalise the important strategic role Local Authorities play through a set of new duties. These duties require authorities to improve the five Every Child Matters outcomes for all pre-school children and reduce inequalities in these outcomes secure sufficient childcare for working parents provide a better parental information service
The Protection of Children Act (PoCA) came into force in October 2000 and gives the Secretary of State the power to keep a list of people unsuitable to work with children and young people. All regulated childcare organisations have a statutory duty to refer individuals for inclusion in the list and must not employ individuals and volunteers, in posts that bring them into contact with children, whose names are included in the PoCA List. Similarly, the Act also allowed for other organisations that work with children and young people to refer individuals and carry out checks on prospective employees and volunteers. In addition the system of Criminal Record Bureau disclosure checks was created for organisations that work with children and young people.
Finally ‘The United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child’ (1989) was approved by the UK in 1991. It set out the principles for a legal framework to underpin all aspects for the care, development and education of all children. The articles cover: non-discrimination on the grounds of gender, religion, disability, language, ethnic or social origin; civil and political rights; economic, social, cultural and protective rights. Particularly relevant for out of school clubs and play providers is Article 31 as this states that all children have the right to relax and play, and to have the chance to join in a wide range of activities.
Question 2 Discuss the steps you would take if you had concerns for the safety and wellbeing of a child. All schools should have a designated safeguarding lead (DSL). They are responsible for dealing with child protection issues in school, providing advice and support to colleagues, liaising with the local authority, and for working, where necessary, with other organisations. The school designated safeguarding lead is the first point of contact for any member of the school staff who has a concern about the safety and wellbeing of a pupil. School governing bodies are accountable for making sure that their school has effective safeguarding policies and procedures in place and for monitoring their school's compliance with them. Headteachers and their leadership teams must also be clear about their statutory responsibilities in relation to safeguarding and the steps they are taking to develop good practice beyond the statutory minimum. There is a need for all staff to be particularly sensitive to signs which may indicate possible safeguarding concerns, for example poor or irregular attendance or children missing from school. Schools are expected to promote children's safety and wellbeing by creating safe and secure learning environments. Also using the curriculum to make pupils aware of how they can keep themselves safe and what behaviour towards them is not acceptable. It is important that children and young people are taught to recognise when pressure from others including people they know, threatens their personal safety and wellbeing.
The school must have effective arrangements in place to address a range of issues such as bullying, internet safety and racist abuse to name a few. Because of their day-to-day contact with children and young people, teachers and their support staff are uniquely placed to be able to detect at an early stage possible welfare concerns, signs of abuse or neglect, changes of behaviour or failure to develop. They can then refer those concerns to the appropriate individual or organisation. Parents are usually at the centre of child protection concerns. This can be very difficult for schools. The school is in a prime position to help identify abuse and alert social care where there are issues. However, it is also vital that they maintain a good working relationship with parents, if at all possible. Losing any links the school might have will not help ensure the safety of the child. Your level of involvement with parents will depend upon the nature of the concern. All child protection referrals must be discussed immediately with the designated safeguarding lead. Where it is a low-level concern, then it is appropriate for a school to put in place strategies for working with parents. For example if you are aware of changing family circumstances that seem to be having an effect on the child emotionally or where a normally well-cared for child has started to come to school in scruffy clothing. There is no threat to the child at this moment but if left unchecked the situation might escalate and become a child protection concern. Once a concern has been raised and the school is satisfied of the details, in the majority of cases a meeting with the parents is required. Setting up this meeting can be tricky in itself, as parents will immediately worry following any phone contact from the school and will want to know the reason for it. Because of this and to alleviate any unnecessary worry, it is best to try and allocate time as soon as possible to discuss the issue. Question 3
Evaluate the effects of domestic abuse on children. What impact could this have on children within a school setting? Domestic violence is a devastating social problem that impacts every segment of the population. While system responses are primarily targeted toward adult victims of abuse, increased attention is now being focused on the children who witness domestic violence. Studies estimate that 10 to 20 percent of children are at risk for exposure to domestic violence (Carlson, 2000). Research also indicates children exposed to domestic violence are at an increased risk of being abused or neglected. A majority of studies reveal there are adult and child victims in 30 to 60 percent of families experiencing domestic violence (Appel and Holden, 1998; Edleson, 1999; Jaffe and Wolfe, 1990). Children who live with domestic violence face increased risks: the risk of exposure to traumatic events, the risk of neglect, the risk of being directly abused, and the risk of losing one or both of their parents. All of these may lead to negative outcomes for children and may affect their well-being, safety, and stability (Carlson, 2000; Edleson, 1999; Rossman, 2001). Childhood problems associated with exposure to domestic violence include behavioural, social, and emotional problems, cognitive and attitudinal problems and long term problems such as depression and trauma symptoms. Children's risk levels and reactions to domestic violence exist on a continuum where some children demonstrate enormous resiliency while others show signs of significant maladaptive adjustment (Carlson, 2000; Edleson, 1999; Hughes, Graham-Bermann & Gruber, 2001).
Protective factors, such as social competence, intelligence, high self-esteem, outgoing temperament, strong sibling and peer relationships, and a supportive relationship with an adult, can help protect children from the adverse effects of exposure to domestic violence. Since children respond differently to domestic violence, professionals are cautioned against assuming that witnessing domestic violence constitutes child maltreatment or social services intervention (Edelson, 1999; Findlater & Kelly, 1999; Spears, 2000). Communities can better serve families by allocating resources that build partnerships between service providers, social services, and the array of informal and formal systems that offer a continuum of services based upon the level of risk present (Edleson, 1999; Spears, 2000). Increased awareness regarding the co-occurrence of domestic violence and child abuse compelled child welfare and domestic violence programs to re-evaluate their services and interventions with families experiencing both forms of violence. Although adult and child victims often are found in the same families, child welfare and domestic violence programs historically responded separately to victims. The divergent responses are largely due to differences in each system's development, philosophy, mandate, policies, and practices (Edleson, 1999; Findlater and Kelly, 1999; Spears 2000). Institutional and societal changes can only begin when an expansive network of service providers integrate their expertise, resources, and services to eliminate domestic violence in their communities. Thus, child welfare and domestic violence service providers can collaborate to achieve a shared goal of freeing victims from violence and working to prevent future violence.
References. Appell, A E, Holden G W (1998) The co-occurrence of spouse and physical child abuse: A review and appraisal. Journal of family psychology 12: Pages 578-599 Carlson, B (2000) Children exposed to intimate partner violence: Research findings and implications for intervention. Trauma Violence Abuse, October 2000 1: Pages 321-324 Edelson, J (1999) The overlap between child maltreatment and woman battering. Violence against women. February 1999 Vol. 5 No. 2 Pages 134-154 Findlater J, Kelly S (1999) Child Protective Services and Domestic Violence, The Future of Children Vol. 9, No. 3, Domestic Violence and Children (Winter, 1999), pp. 84-96, Princeton University, USA Huffman, L R, Speer, P W, (2000) Academic performance among at-risk children: The role of developmentally appropriate practices, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Volume 15, Issue 2, 2000, Pages 167–184 Hughes, H M.; Graham-Bermann, S A.; Gruber, G (2001) Resilience in children exposed to domestic violence Washington Press, USA
Rossman, B (2001). Longer term effects of children's exposure to domestic violence. Washington Press, USA
Wilson, S K, Wolfe D A, Jaffe P G (1990) Children of battered women. Sage Publications.
Bibliography Beckett, C (2007) Child Protection: An introduction. Sage Publications Calder, M C, Harold G T, Howarth E (2004) Children living with domestic violence: Towards a framework for assessment and intervention. Russell House Publishing http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ (Accessed 24th October 2013)
Meggitt, C, (2012) Child Development: An Illustrated Guide (3rd Edition), Oxford: Heinemann Munro, E (2008) Effective Child Protection. Sage Publications