Coten End Pre-school Policy for Safe Guarding and Child Protection during Covid 19 pandemic

The reasoning for an added safe guarding/ child protection policy during Covid19: Children and young people are usually seen by lots of different adults every day, like neighbours, grandparents, teachers and early years practitioners. But due to covid19 we are all self isolating, social distancing and spending much more time at home. This means some families might need extra support with parenting and if a child is experiencing abuse or neglect there are not as many opportunities for adults to spot the signs and symptoms.

During the Covid 19 pandemic we are facing unprecedented challenges to support and safe guard vulnerable children and their families, during this time of uncertainty, it is particularly important to safeguard children who may be at an increasing risk of abuse, harm and exploitation and to safe guard families with parents facing significant pressures to continue to protect and promote the welfare of their children. The parents may be struggling and so with additional pressure the likelihood of harm or significate harm increases.

There are several risk factors that can lead to an increased likelihood of abuse neglect and harm

Poverty

Families are unable to meet the basic needs of children,
Paid work is threatened or has been lost
Families are being forced to isolate
Families are struggling to pay bills and/or buy food and the essentials

  • During this time Coten End Pre-school will ensure that we sign post families to local mutual aid support networks and food banks when requests are made and make this information available on our Famly App
  • Staff to keep in contact with parents via Famly to support them in anyway possible

Abuse and harm

Different types of abuse and harm are likely to be more prominent during this time. This does not mean that risk will definitely increase when working with pre-existing concerns. However, we should show curiosity how the risk may become exacerbated.

  • Coten End Pre-school staff are to complete concern forms (green forms) when any concerns arise and continue with safe guarding procedures
  • Designated Safe Guarding Lead to address parents about there concerns via face to face contact wearing masks and shields, telephone conversation or meetings via zoom.

Domestic abuse

We know that conflict and violence can escalate when families face greater pressure and stress and spending more time at home can cause anxiety for those who feel at risk. The current situation disrupts routines and behaviours, both positively and negatively and it is important to be aware of how the tension can escalate to violence and abusive behaviours between families, parents and children.

  • Staff to continue to follow safe guarding procedures
  • staff to support families with routines, behaviour and any other support

Neglect

Isolation can place children at greater risk of neglect. This is compounded by the increased economic challenges and poverty that families may be facing, and by the increased exposure of children to neglectful environments as they spend more time in their home. Even with the reopening of schools and nurseries children may still have reduced contact with the usual range of professionals who can may further limit the contact that children have with professionals who can identify the signs of neglect and take steps to intervene and report concerns

  • staff continue to follow safe guarding procedures
  • Staff to support families where necessary

Children with additional needs

We know that children with additional needs and disabilities are up to 3 times more likely to be abused or neglected than non-disabled children, and less likely to disclose harm due to communication and other difficulties. However with localized outbreaks that affect the opening of schools or require self-isolation, families may still find increased time at home and additional caring responsibilities, where external support opportunities may be limited, a strain.

  • Staff continue to follow safe guarding procedures
  • SEN coordinator to support parents when and where necessary

Strengths-based staff practice

It is important that practitioners do not become overly risk focused, showing curiosity whilst being mindful of not interfering too much simply because the current situation brings risks and anxieties. In times of adversity, the strengths and resilience’s of families can shine through.

It is likely that you will find it difficult to manage your time with your workload possibly increasing. When prioritizing your work, think about the children and families you workalongside and consider if the nature of your involvement is necessary and proportionate. Whilst many local support and organisations have reduced capacity to help families during theCovid 19 outbreak, there are many examples of community networks and social enterprises that have started to replace them and address needs.

Actions to be taken by the setting:

During the Covid19 pandemic the setting will draw up a register/database of all vulnerable children to include all children who are:

  • Subject of a child protection plan
  • Looked after by the local authority
  • Subject to an educational,health and care (EHC) plan
  • Currently subject to a child in need
  • Young carers
  • Disabled
  • Facing other social difficulties or welfare needs and require early help/additional support that the setting would want to provide.

Ensure that the database contains the names and contact details of parents/carers; other than significant family members; social workers; family support workers; other key professionals, including health professionals.

Ensure the register is accessible to all Designated Safe Guarding Leads.

RAG rate the list on your vulnerable children database to identify those that need to be in nursery, including the list above, those that could be supported by regular contact from DSL and those whose attendance is likely to be unreliable and may therefore need additional contact and support.

RAG rate rating criteria:

  • Red – most at risk of harm or neglect and fewest protective factors – this will include all children subject to a child protection plan
  • Amber – at moderate risk of harm – but with some protective factors – this will include those with a child in need plan and /or are being supported by a family support worker
  • Green – some concerns or unmet needs; or have been red or amber and need monitoring.
  • Allocate each child on the vulnerable database to a DSL who will be responsible for ensuring that the identified level of support and contact is provided.
  • DSLs should record all contact and outcomes in the usual way so that those records are visible to colleague DSLs and can be reviewed in regular DSL meetings

For all the children that need to be in pre-school, ensure communication goes home by the end of the day prior to lock down stating that moving forward these children are expected to attend the setting.

For any child in this category who does not attend, we will follow our normal absence management policy. As a minimum, pre-school will contact parents by telephone to find out why the child is absent - if it is felt necessary a home visit will take place.

For all children subject to a child protection plan and who are looked after, the setting will liaise with Childrens Social Care – as long as 1 practitioner has seen the child, that will suffice as a safe and well check – the setting will log this.Nonetheless, whilst following our normal absence management procedure, the social worker must be informed about any child subject to a child protection plan, child in need plan or who is looked after who does not attend the setting on the first day of lock down and any subsequent days.

For each child identified as vulnerable but who we consider can be safely cared for at home, we will identify the nature and frequency of contact we will need with the child to assure ourselves of their safety and well being. This will include phone calls, text messages, home visits or zoom meetings.

Any home visit that the setting makes will be risk assessed. If agreed a home visit is necessary, it will be done with 2 DSLs presentStaff will be advised not to enter households but simply to check that the child is well by a conversation on the doorstep, keeping a reasonable distance.If we are visiting, it is important that we see the child, even if it is through a window – in the case of a family self-isolating.

If a family is self isolating and/or it is difficult to carry out a home visit, we will consider using zoom to have a video chat. Again 2 DSLs will be present during this virtual chat. This will be agreed with the parent/carer prior to a call being made.

All pre-school policies and procedures including child protection, staff behaviour and ITC acceptable use policies will be adhered to at all times. No member of staff will use their own ITC or telephone equipment, or private message a child, or video conference a child directly other than via a pre-school owned equipment subject to parental agreement.

Where concerns for a child at home reach the threshold for significant harm, a referral will be made to MASH/police as per normal safe guarding procedures.

The DSL team should continue with weekly face to face meetings between them to discuss the welfare of all vulnerable children.

DSLs will continue to be available to liase with MASH/police/childrens social care team. DSLs will have access to their works email accounts and will have access to a works mobile phone. These numbers will be shared with the appropriate outside agencies.

DSLs must continue to be available to attend – either in person or virtually – child protection conferences; core group meetings; strategy meetings; child in need meetings and children who are looked after meetings.

The Education Safeguarding service will be available as usual for advice and support via 07966224286 or 01926742525 or adrianover@warwickshire.gov.uk

Safeguarding arrangements for all Warwickshire educational settings during Covid19 school closures.

Unless otherwise stated early years settings, schools and colleges remain open for vulnerable children and the children of key workers. Government guidance is that all children who do not fall into one of these categories should be kept away from pre-school.

For clarity the criteria is:

Everyday data will be collected in the morning so that WCC have a clear picture of who is in thesetting, and if any child that should be attending is attending. This is obviously a critical piece of work to ensure the safe tracking of all vulnerable children.

Changes to this policy and procedure.

We keep this policy under regular review.

Version Author Date Description
Original Heather Goodman Hazel Jones
With guidance from NSPCC/WSCB
June 2020 Document Created
Reviewed      
Reviewed