Children Protection

PURPOSE
To provide clear guidelines in ensuring to protect the safety and wellbeing of children attending FIRST IDEA FAMILY DAY CARE SERVICES, services. We ensure to exercise duty of care in accordance with guidelines legislated by relevant authorities

SCOPE
These guidelines will apply to the Approved provider, nominated supervisor, educational leader, supervisors, educators, staff, students on placement, volunteers, parents/guardian, children and others attending the service.

OBJECTIVE

  • To provide a safe environment for all the children attending FIRST IDEA FAMILY DAY CARE SERVICES,
  • To ensure all reasonable steps are taken by the approved provider, educators and staff to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of children attending the service
  • To ensure timely and effective intervention for children and young people who may be at risk of abuse or neglect
  • To ensure processes for reporting and responding to concerns and allegations are followed appropriately

Victorian child safe standards
In complying with the child safe standards an applicable entity to which the standards apply must include the following principles as part of their response to each standard:

  • promoting the cultural safety of Aboriginal children
  • promoting the cultural safety of children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • promoting the safety of children with a disability.

To create and maintain a child safe organisation, an applicable entity to which the standards apply must have:

  • Standard 1: Strategies to embed an organisational culture of child safety, including through effective leadership arrangements.
  • Standard 2: A child safe policy or statement of commitment to child safety.
  • Standard 3: A code of conduct that establishes clear expectations for appropriate behaviour with children.
  • Standard 4: Screening, supervision, training and other human resources practices that reduce the risk of child abuse by new and existing personnel.
  • Standard 5: Processes for responding to and reporting suspected child abuse.
  • Standard 6: Strategies to identify and reduce or remove risks of child abuse.
  • Standard 7: Strategies to promote the participation and empowerment of children.

The child safe standards will apply to organisations from 1 January 2016 in phases:

  • Phase 1: Organisations that provide services for children that are government funded and/or regulated will be required to work towards compliance from 1 January 2016
  • Phase 2: Other organisations that provide services for children will be required to comply from 1 January 2017

The organizations/employers are responsible for training new and existing staff/educators for the preparation of implementation of child safe standards

WHAT IS ABUSE?
According to the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 mandated reporters (including people employed in children’s services and unpaid managers of these
services) must make reports if they suspect on reasonable grounds a child is at risk of significant harm because:

  • The child’s basic physical or psychological needs are not being met or are at risk of not being met
  • The parents or other caregivers have not arranged and are unable or unwilling to arrange for the child to receive necessary medical care
  • The parents or other caregivers have not arranged and are unable or unwilling to arrange for a school age child to receive an education
  • The child has been, or is at risk of being physically or sexually abused or ill-treated
  • The child is living in a household where there have been incidents of domestic violence and they are at risk of serious physical or psychological harm
  • The parent’s or other caregiver’s behaviour means the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering serious psychological harm

INDICATORS OF ABUSE
There are common physical and behavioural signs that may indicate abuse or neglect. The presence of one of these signs does not necessarily mean abuse or neglect. Behavioural or physical signs which assist in recognising harm to children are known as indicators. The following is a guide only. One indicator on its own may not imply abuse or neglect. However, a single indicator can be as important as the presence of several indicators. Each indicator needs to be deliberated in the
perspective of other indicators and the child’s circumstances. A child’s behaviour is likely to be affected if he/she is under stress. There can be many causes of stress and it is important to find out specifically what is causing the stress. Abuse and neglect can be single incidents or ongoing and may be intentional or unintentional.

General indicators of abuse and neglect may include:

  • Marked delay between injury and seeking medical assistance
  • History of injury
  • The child gives some indication that the injury did not occur as stated
  • The child tells you someone has hurt him/her
  • The child tells you about someone he/she knows who has been hurt
  • Someone (relative, friend, acquaintance, and sibling) tells you that the child may have been abused.

NEGLECT
Child neglect is the continuous failure by a parent or caregiver to provide a child with the basic things needed for their growth and development, such as food, clothing, shelter, medical and dental care and adequate supervision. Some examples are:

  • Inability to respond emotionally to the child
  • Child abandonment
  • Depriving or withholding physical contact
  • Failure to provide psychological nurturing
  • Treating one child differently to the others

Indicators of Neglect in children

  • Poor standard of hygiene leading to social isolation
  • Scavenging or stealing food
  • Extreme longing for adult affection
  • Lacking a sense of genuine interaction with others
  • Acute separation anxiety
  • Self-comforting behaviours, e.g. rocking, sucking
  • Delay in development milestones
  • Untreated physical problems

PHYSICAL ABUSE
Physical abuse is when a child has suffered, or is at risk of suffering, non-accidental trauma or injury, caused by a parent, caregiver or other person. Educators will be particularly aware of looking for possible physical abuse if parents or caregivers:

  • Make direct admissions from parents about fear of hurting their children
  • Have a family history of violence
  • Have a history of their own maltreatment as a child
  • Make repeated visits for medical assistance

Indicators of Physical Abuse

  • Facial, head and neck bruising
  • Lacerations and welts
  • Explanations are not consistent with injury
  • Bruising or marks that may show the shape of an object
  • Bite marks or scratches
  • Multiple injuries or bruises
  • Ingestion of poisonous substances, alcohol or drugs
  • Sprains, twists, dislocations
  • Bone fractures
  • Burns and scalds

EMOTIONAL ABUSE
Emotional abuse occurs when an adult harms a child’s development by repetitively treating and speaking to a child in ways that damage the child’s ability to feel and express their feelings. This may include:

  • Constant criticism, condescending, teasing of a child or ignoring or withholding admiration and affection
  • Excessive or unreasonable demands
  • Persistent hostility, severe verbal abuse, and rejection
  • Belief that a specific child is bad or “evil”
  • Using inappropriate physical or social isolation as punishment
  • Exposure to domestic violence

Indicators of emotional abuse

  • Feeling of worthlessness about them
  • Inability to value others
  • Lack of trust in people and expectations
  • Extreme attention seeking behaviours
  • Other behavioural disorders (disruptiveness, aggressiveness, bullying)

SEXUAL ABUSE
Sexual abuse is when someone involves a child in a sexual activity by using their authority over them or taking advantage of their trust. Children are often bribed or threatened physically and psychologically to make them partake in the activity. Educators will be predominantly conscious of looking for potential sexual abuse if parents or caregivers are suspected of or charged with child sexual abuse or display inappropriate jealousy regarding age appropriate development of independence from the family. Sexual abuse may include:

  • Exposing the child to sexual behaviours of others
  • Coercing the child to engage in sexual behaviour with other children
  • Verbal threats of sexual abuse
  • Exposing the child to pornography

Indicators of Sexual Abuse

  • They describe sexual acts
  • Direct or indirect disclosures
  • Age inappropriate behaviour and/or persistent sexual behaviour
  • Self-destructive behaviour
  • Regression in development achievements
  • Child being in contact with a suspected or know perpetrator of sexual assault
  • Bleeding from the vagina or anus
  • Injuries such as tears to the genitalia

PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE
Psychological harm occurs where the behaviour of the parent or caregiver damages the confidence and self-esteem of the child, resulting in serious emotional deficiency or trauma. In general it is the frequency and duration of this behaviour that causes harm. Some examples are:

  • Excessive criticism
  • Withholding affection
  • Exposure to domestic violence
  • Intimidation or threatening behaviour.

Indicators of psychological abuse

  • Constant feelings of worthlessness
  • Unable to value others
  • Lack of trust in people
  • Lack of people skills necessary for daily functioning
  • Extreme attention seeking behaviour
  • Extremely eager to please or obey adults
  • Takes extreme risks, is markedly disruptive, bullying or aggressive
  • Suicide threats
  • Running away from home

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Domestic violence, or intimate partner violence, is a violation of human rights. It involves violent, abusive or intimidating behaviour carried out by an adult against a partner or former partner to control and dominate that person.

Domestic violence causes fear, physical and/or psychological harm. It is most often violent, abusive or intimidating behaviour by a man against a woman. Living with domestic violence has a profound effect upon children and young people and may constitute a form of child abuse. (The NSW Domestic and Family Violence Action Plan, June 2010)

Indicators of Domestic Violence

  • Show aggressive behaviour
  • Develop phobias & insomnia
  • Experience anxiety
  • Show systems of depression
  • Have diminished self esteem
  • Demonstrate poor academic performance and problem-solving skills
  • Have reduced social competence skills including low levels of empathy
  • Show emotional distress
  • Have physical complaints

SIGNIFICANT RISK OF HARM
Significant risk of harm is where the circumstances that are causing concern are present to a significant state and warrant a response by a statutory authority, such as the Victorian Police Force or Community Services, regardless of a family’s consent.

According to Keep Them Safe, Significant is not minor or trivial and may reasonably be expected to produce substantial and adverse impacts on the child’s safety, welfare or wellbeing. The significance can be a result of a single act or omission or an accumulation of acts and omissions.

REASONABLE GROUNDS
Reasonable ground refers to the need to have an objective basis for suspecting that a child may be at risk of abuse and neglect based on:

  • First hand observation of the child or family
  • What the child, parent or other person has disclosed
  • What can reasonably be indirect based on observation, professional training and/ or experience

PROCEDURES
Our service strongly opposes any type of abuse against a child and endorses high quality practices in relation to protecting children. To ensure best practice, all educators will attend compulsory Child Protection training every 24 months to ensure they are kept updated and informed of their current responsibilities as Mandatory Reporters.

NOTE: The reporter is not required to prove that abuse has occurred.

Management/Nominated Supervisor will ensure:

  • The nominated supervisor of the service and any certified supervisor in day to day charge of the service has successfully completed a course in child protection approved by the New South Wales Regulatory Authority.
  • All employees and volunteers are:
  • Clear about their roles and responsibilities regarding child protection.
  • Aware of their requirements to immediately report cases where they believe a child is at risk of significant harm to the Child Protection Helpline.
  • Aware of the indicators showing a child may be at risk of harm or significant risk of harm.
  • To provide training and development for all educators, staff and volunteers in child protection
  • To provide educators with a reporting procedure and professional standards to safeguard children and protect the integrity of educators, staff and volunteers.
  • To validate a Working with Children, Check for all educators, staff and volunteers unless the person meets the criteria for exemption from a WWCC. See exemption factsheet at http://www.kids.nsw.gov.au.
  • To provide access to relevant acts, regulations, standards and other resources to help educators, staff and volunteers meet their obligations.
  • Records of abuse or suspected abuse are kept in line with our Privacy and Confidentiality Policy.
  • To notify the Ombudsman within 30 days of becoming aware of any allegations and convictions for abuse or neglect of a child made against an employee or volunteer and ensure they are investigated and appropriate action taken.
  • To notify the Commission for Children and Young People of details of employees against whom relevant disciplinary proceedings have been completed or people whose employment has been rejected because of a risk identified in employment screening processes.

Accusations against Educators
Accusations of abuse or suspected abuse against educators, staff members, and volunteers, the Nominated Supervisor or Approved Provider are treated in the same way as allegations against other people. Reports will be made to the Child Protection Helpline where a child is at risk of significant abuse by a person at the Service. If the Supervisor is involved in the abuse then the Approved Provider or most senior educator will assist in notifying the Child Protection Helpline.

Educators will:

  • Will complete, update and provide evidence if certification of child protection training including Victorian Child Safe Standards (mandatory)
  • Be able to recognise indicators of abuse
  • Respect what a child discloses, taking it seriously and follow up their concerns.
  • Allow children to be part of decision-making processes where appropriate.
  • Comprehend they are mandatory reporters under the legislation and report any situation where they believe on reasonable grounds a child is at risk of significant harm
  • To report concerns that are life threatening call Victoria Police 000.
  • To report concerns about the immediate safety of a child within their family unit, call the Child Protection Crisis Line 13 12 78 (24 hours, 7 days a week, toll free within Victoria)
  • Note: this is an emergency service for weekends and after hours only and will pass on cases to the relevant regions the following working day
  • To contact a child protection office close to you call a local office.

**please find the contact numbers in Appendix
Associate families with referral agencies where concerns of harm do not meet the threshold of significant harm. These services may be located through CWU (Child Wellbeing Units) or/and FRS (Family Referral Services) at http://www.keepthemsafe.nsw.gov.au. Family consent will be sought before making referrals.

  • Promote the welfare, safety and wellbeing of children at the service.
  • Prepare precise records recording exactly what happened, conversations that took place and what you observed to contribute to the investigations of abuse or suspected abuse by the Child Protection Helpline or dealings with referral agencies.
  • Understand that allegations of abuse or suspected abuse against them are treated in the same way as allegations of abuse against other people

Behaviour management and Family Day care educator’s own behaviour

  • Family day care educator must ensure that he/she has a well-managed behaviour such as anger, frustration and stress over children
  • Family day care educator must ensure using the appropriate tone of voice and language on children in terms of managing behaviours of children
  • Please note that raising voice over children is offensive as per the child protection law
  • Behaviour management will be sensitive to these earlier experiences and plans should include strategies that will facilitate alternative and positive behaviour.
  • All behaviour management will be appropriate to the child or young person’s age and developmental capacity.
  • Behaviour management will always emphasise positive approaches and prohibit cruel, harsh, humiliating or degrading actions.
    (for more procedures please follow the behaviour management policy)

Notifications of abuse
The person making a notification of abuse or suspected abuse will make a record of the answers to the following:

  • Give the child or young person your full attention.
  • Maintain a calm appearance.
  • Don’t be afraid of saying the “wrong” thing.
  • Reassure the child or young person it is right to tell.
  • Accept the child or young person will disclose only what is comfortable and recognise the bravery/strength of the child for talking about something that is difficult.
  • Let the child or young person take his or her time.
  • Let the child or young person use his or her own words.
  • Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
  • Tell the child or young person what you plan to do next.
  • Do not confront the perpetrator.

Confidentiality
It is important that any notification remains confidential, as it is vitally important to remember that no confirmation of any allegation can be made until the matter is investigated. The individual who makes the complaint should not inform the person they have made the complaint about. This ensures the matter can be investigated without prior knowledge and contamination of evidence.

Protection for reporters
Reports made to Community Services are kept confidential. However, a law enforcement agency may access the identity of the reporter if this is needed in connection with the investigation of an alleged serious offence against a child. Under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 if the report is made in good faith:

    • the report will not breach standards of professional conduct
    • the report can’t lead to defamation proceedings
    • the report is not admissible in any proceedings as evidence against the person who made the report
    • a person cannot be compelled by a court to provide the report or disclose its contents
    • The identity of the person making the report is protected.

.

A report is also an exempt document under the Freedom of Information Act 1989.

Breach of child protection policy
All educators and staff working with children have a duty of care to support and protect children. A duty of care is breached if a person:

  • does something that a reasonable person in that person’s position would not do in a particular situation
  • fails to do something that a reasonable person in that person’s position would do in the circumstances
  • Acts or fails to act in a way that causes harm to someone the person owes a duty of care.

Managing a breach in child protection policy
Management will investigate the breaches in a fair, unbiased and supportive manner by:

  • Discussing the breach with all people concerned will be advised of the process
  • Giving the educator the opportunity to provide their version of events
  • Documenting the details of the breach, including the versions of all parties and the outcome will be recorded
  • Ensuring the matters in relation to the breach are kept confidential
  • Approaching an appropriate outcome which will be decided based on evidence and discussion

Outcome of a breach in child protection policy
Depending on the nature of the breach outcomes may include:

  • Emphasising the relevant element of the child protection policy and procedure
  • Providing closer supervision
  • Further education and training
  • Facilitating between those involved in the incident (where appropriate)
  • Disciplinary procedures if required
  • Reviewing current policies and procedures and developing new policies and procedures if necessary.

Educating children about protective behaviour
Our program will educate children:

  • About acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, and what is appropriate and inappropriate contact at an age appropriate level and understanding
  • About their right to feel safe at all times.
  • To say ‘no ‘to anything that makes them feel unsafe or uncomfortable
  • About how to use their own knowledge and understanding to feel safe.
  • To identify signs that they do not feel safe and need to be attentive and think clearly.
  • That there is no secret or story that is too horrific, that they can ‘t shares with someone they trust.
  • That educators are available for them if they have any concerns.
  • To tell educators of any suspicious activities or people.
  • To recognise and express their feelings verbally and non-verbally.
  • That they can choose to change the way they are feeling.

Source

  • Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority. (2014).
  • Guide to the Education and Care Services National Law
  • Education and Care Services National Regulations 2015,
  • ECA Code of Ethics.
  • Victorian child safe standards
  • Guide to the National Quality Standard.
  • Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012
  • Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998
  • The Ombudsman’s Act 1974
  • Community and Disability Services Ministers’ Conference (2005). Creating safe environments for children: Organisations, employees and volunteers: National framework.
  • Community and Disability Services Ministers’ Conference (2005). Schedule: Guidelines for building the capacity of child-safe organisations. Creating safe environments for children: Organisations, employees and volunteers: National framework.
  • NSW Community Services: NSW Mandatory Reporting Guide
  • The Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998
  • Early Years Learning Framework
  • National Quality Standard.
  • Ombudsman NSW www.ombo.nsw.gov.au

Child Protection Procedure

    • 1. A notification is an expression of concern for the child. Educators do not have to prove that reportable conduct is happening or have evidence of who may be abusing the child to contemplate making a notification.

2. A notification will only be made after communicating with the Approved Provider or Nominated Supervisor. Any notification must be made in concurrence with the Nominated Supervisor, unless they are suspected of reportable conduct. In this situation, you must make the notification.

3. It is important for educators to remain sensitive to the practices of families of culturally diverse or indigenous backgrounds, however, this child protection policy must be adhered to. The processes and procedures within this policy attempt to allow for the individual differences of families.

4. Up-to-date developmental records on all children are to be kept. Relevant conversations with parents that may relate to a child’s behaviour change (e.g. parents separating, new baby in the family, moving to a new house etc) are to be noted in the developmental record.

5. Staff should work with parents to develop and record appropriate procedures for managing toilet practices and behaviour management. Parents should be made aware that it may be necessary to physically restrain an out of control child who may be compromising the safety of him/herself, other children or staff, or to isolate the child from others for short periods of time

6. Subsequently to a notification being made, records of the child remain the responsibility of the Service staff and should not be passed onto any other person. If officers wish to see the records they should be viewed at the Service in the presence of the Directors/Authorised Supervisor and only removed if signed for by the State and Territory Authorities officer with a stated date for return of the records to the Service.

It is important when making a notification that you ask the following questions in relation to notification:

  • Name of person you spoke with
  • What was the next step in the process
  • What confirmation will be sent to confirm the report has been made
  • Is there any further action you need to take?

If an interview is to be directed at the Service the following should be adhered to:

  • If it is clearly deceptive that the alleged abuser is not a member of the child’s immediate family, the parents should be notified of the interview and be given the opportunity to be present. State and Territory Authorities must be consulted prior to this.
  • An educator to whom the child relates to will be present during the interview. The staff member must not interfere in the progression but should be present as an observer and a support for the child.
  • All staff will co-operate with any investigation undertaken by State and Territory Authorities and/or police.
  • Following the interview, the staff member must immediately write a report in the first person, which states as well as they can remember what each person has said, and forward a copy to the Nominated Supervisor marked confidential.

Child Protection Training

Educator Name

Training Company in Child Protection

Date

Review Training

Working With Children Check

Educator Name

Working with Children Check Number

Expiry Date

Verification Date

Victorian Child Protection Agencies
The Child First have responsibilities regarding child protection in Victoria. Our service will network with these services and agencies should child protection convert an issue at our service.

Guide to Making a Report to Child Protection or Child FIRST
The first part of the guide is a step-by-step instruction for those who are concerned about a child in relation to child abuse or neglect to making a report to child protection services in Victoria.

The second part of the guide contains a list of phone contact within Victoria for both Metropolitan and Regional areas.

Please find the Guide to Making a Report to Child Protection or Child FIRST (PDF 326.4 KB) in Appendix

Family Services Program
The aim of Family Services is to promote the safety, stability and development of vulnerable children, young people and their families, and to build capacity and resilience for children, families and communities.

The target group for Family Services is vulnerable young people and their families who are:

  • likely to experience greater challenges as the child or young person’s development has been affected by the experience of risk factors and/or cumulative harm, and/or
  • at risk of concerns escalating and becoming involved with Child Protection if problems are not addressed.
  • The intention is to provide services to the target group earlier, to protect children and young people and improve family functioning.
  • Child First (Child and Family Information Referral and Support Teams) are located in each of the 24 Child First catchments across Victoria, to provide a community-based referral point into Family Services and other appropriate support services.

Family Services provide a comprehensive range of services and approaches. These include:

  • a strength-based approach and comprehensive needs and risk assessment
  • identification of pathways and key transition points that focus on earlier intervention, prevention and diversion
  • capacity to provide intensive, multidisciplinary responses
  • authorisation to consult with or make reports to Child Protection when a child is believed to be in need of protection.
  • Family Services are delivered within a casework framework and interventions are determined by an assessment of need and development of a child and family action plan to address the needs identified. This plan determines the goals of intervention for the child and family and details the interventions to be undertaken.

Intervention ways and approaches to enhance parenting capacity and skills; parent-child relationships; child development; and social connectedness may include:

  • Outreach
  • In home support
  • Family decision making/family group conferencing
  • Group work
  • Counselling
  • Brokerage
  • Accessing universal services
  • Secondary consultations.

The Commission for Children and Young People

  • Monitors trends and makes commendations to government and non-government agencies on legislation, policies, practices and services affecting young children.
  • Has numerous child protection resources available on-line.
  • Receives notifications of the outcomes of completed disciplinary proceedings.
  • Children’s’ Services Employers must notify the Commission for Children and Young People of details of employees against whom pertinent disciplinary actions have been completed and or persons whose employment has been rejected because of a risk identified in employment screening processes.

REVIEW

POLICY REVIEWED

July 2018

NEXT REVIEW DATE

July 2019

MODIFICATIONS

Policy created for First Idea Family Day Care Services, inclusive of changes to the National Quality Standards and Education and Care National Regulations

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