The Importance of Confidentiality & Data Protection

In order to run a childcare service there is a need to retain a large amount of information on each child. The Data Protection Act 1998 covers correct storage and sharing of both manual and electronic information. There are eight principles put in place by the Data Protection Act 1998 to make sure that information is handled properly: * fairly and lawfully processed * processed for limited purposes * adequate, relevant and not excessive * accurate * not kept longer than necessary * processed in accordance with individuals' rights * kept secure

* not transferred to countries outside the European Economic Area without adequate protection. Childminders need to comply with all of the above but can avoid registering with the Information Commissioner as a "data controller" for data protection purposes: * if one keeps all your childminding records on paper. * If you keep information about the names, ages and addresses of children and their parents, details of payments, or any data for staff administration on a computer, purely for accounts and records purposes, you are also exempt from notification.

* But if you keep more extensive records, or information of a more sensitive nature, for example about children's health, behaviour or development, on a computer then you need to contact the ICO to find out if you need to notify. * Also, if you are going to be taking digital photographs of the children in your care, you will be expected to register with the ICO. * Notification costs ? 35 pa and is paid to the Information Commissioner.

It is necessary to maintain a record of parent(s)’ and/or emergency contact details, the contact details of the child’s GP and appropriate signed consent forms. If a child is identified as a child in need (section 17 of the Children Act1989) it will, normally with the parent’s permission, be necessary to give appropriate information to referring agencies. Parents will need to inform the Carer of any changes in the child’s home circumstances, care arrangements or any other change which may affect the child’s behaviour such as a new baby, parents’ separation, divorce or any bereavement.

All information shared will need to be kept confidential and secure and cannot be disclosed without the parent(s)’ consent, except as required by law, for example, where there appears to be a child protection issue. The details must also be easily accessible if any information is required for inspection by Ofsted. Parents have a right to inspect all records about their child at any time. All accidents should be recorded in an accident record book.

For insurance purposes it may be necessary that all accidents and injuries will be reported to the company providing a public liability policy, to enable a claim number to be allocated. All significant other incidents should be recorded and could be shared and discussed with parents. It is also important that Parents as well as the Child Minder respect the confidentiality of others. Parents may also find out confidential information about the Child Minders family and other families perhaps through their children and should respect families confidentiality and not repeat what they may have been told, to other parties.