* To provide support for vulnerable children
* Responsible for co-ordinating and implementing an inter-agency child protection plan to safeguard children
* To make enquiries to enable them to decide what action they should take to safeguard or promote the child or young person’s welfare
* Deal with courts when a child or young person is thought to be in immediate danger
* Act as a principle point of contact for children where there are child protection concerns
* Responsible for co-ordinating the assessment of the child or young person’s needs, the parent’s capacity to keep the child safe and the wider family circumstances
* Have arrangements in place so that they may be contacted directly by parents of family members seeking help, concerned friends and neighbours and by professionals and statutory and voluntary agencies.
* Review, gather and evaluate situations as to why, how, when the child or young person became at risk/harmed/abused
* Counselling to allow a child or young person to open up about their abuse/harm
* Provide psychological evaluations on both the child and parent/carers
* Recommendations on whether the child should have psychological treatment
* Recommendations for other services that would help create a safe environment for the child or young person
* The role of a psychologist is that of a professional expert who strives to maintain an unbiased, objective stance.
* Need to be alert to signs and symptoms of abuse/neglect/harm
* Conscious of parents/carers who visit different hospitals
* Conscious of parents/carers changing their version of events of an injury or if the child or young person’s version of events is different
* Notify the child/young person’s GP immediately of any visits to an A;E department when a child is 5 years or under or with children up to the age of 18 where there is cause for concern
* Examine children or young people believed to have been abused
* Identify any other medical needs the child/young person may have
* Give evidence in court in criminal and/or care proceedings
* Know how to gather, collate and present evidence
* Understand the needs of abused children
* Undertake and supervise appropriate child protection training
* Know when and how to refer a child/young person to social services when they are concerned about abuse, neglect or its likelihood
* Be informed immediately when other members of the primary health care team become concerned about the welfare of a child/young person
* Discuss their concerns with colleagues who have experience in child protection matters where there is clinical uncertainty
* Share information with social services when enquiries are being made
* Attend child protection conferences and make available relevant information about a child and its family
* As employers, GP’s are responsible for their staff and must ensure that practice nurses, practice managers, receptionists and any other staff who they employ, are given child protection training
MIDWIVES AND HEALTH VISITORS
* Midwives and health visitors are well placed to indentify risk factors to a child during pregnancy, birth and early years
* Identify children at risk of significant harm by being alert to parent’s attitudes and behaviours during pregnancy and early parenthood which give rise for concern
* Monitor children’s development and identify if there is a reason for a child failing to thrive
* Notify social services if concerns are raised during the antenatal period about the future of the unborn child and they believe the child may be at risk from significant harm, so that a pre-birth child protection case conference can be considered.
MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
* Should be aware of their responsibilities for safeguarding children and their contribution to the child protection process
* Although the assessment of risk to children is the responsibility of family and child care social workers, professionals within the mental health service have specific skills and knowledge and may be asked to contribute to investigations to advise on the effects of a parent’s illness or the risks created by a child’s illness
* Attend and submit written reports to child protection case conferences
* In some circumstances, provide evidence in court
* Assess the risk posed by perpetrators of abuse
* Assess and/or treat children or young people in families where abuse had occurred and there may be a conflict between the needs of the child/young person and the parent
* All schools and colleges have a pastoral responsibility towards their pupils and should take all reasonable steps to ensure that a child/young person’s welfare is safeguarded and their safety is preserved
* Have their own policies and procedures in place for safeguarding children and young people
* Be able to identify children/young people who are suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm
* Create and maintain a safe environment for children and young people
* Have a child protection policy that sets out the procedures that should be followed whenever there are concerns about a child/young person
* A schools child protection policy should also address how children will be made aware of risks, how children will be helped to recognise risks and how they will be given the skills to cope through the use of the preventative curriculum
* Trained to recognise and notice outwards signs of possible abuse or neglect
* Refer any concerns to the designated child protection officer within their setting, who in turn would report to social services where necessary
* Play a role in assisting social services by referring concerns and providing information which will contribute to child protection investigations
* Liaise with social services where there are concerns about abuse or neglect
* The police have a duty and responsibility to investigate criminal offences committed against children and young people
* To investigate whether a crime has been committed, identify those responsible and secure evidence for any criminal proceedings
* Liaise with social services when an offence against a child/young person has been committed
* They have emergency powers to enter premises and to ensure the immediate protection of children and young people who are believed to be suffering, or at risk of suffering, significant harm
* Officers attending domestic violence incidents should be aware of the effect of such violence on any child or young person within the household
* Make sure they handle all investigations of child abuse with sensitivity
* Have access to information through IMPACT Nominal Index (INI) which enables them to share information quickly and efficiently with other forces
* This is a voluntary organisation and it has placed upon it “the duty to ensure an appropriate and speedy response in all cases where children are alleged to be at risk of abuse or neglect in any form”
* Have a responsibility to identify and prevent cruelty to children
* Contributes to multi-agency training and particularly multi-disciplinary training
* The NSPCC is authorised to initiate proceedings to protect children under the terms of the Children Act 1989
* Operates a helpline service advising adults and professionals on safeguarding matters and where necessary, liaises with local statutory agencies to refer children at risk of abuse
* Operates Child Line which provides a telephone helpline across the UK for all children and young people who needs advice about abuse, bullying and other concerns
Although all the above may be involved when a child or young person has been abused or harmed, this may not always be the case for every individual. Below is a brief outline of the investigation process in which the agencies above take part and when.
Consultation – Discussion and advice on child protection concerns.
Referrals – Formal requests to make child protection enquiries on behalf of a child or young person who may be suffering.
Initial Assessment – Record/file checks to clarify if a child or young person is in need of protection. This involves a consultation with parents/carers, family and the child/young person. However, if a child is put at further risk by professionals consulting their family, the family is not informed of the initial assessment.
Strategy discussion – Whenever there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child/young person is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm, a strategy discussion will take place which will involve local authority children’s social care, the police, health services and other bodies where appropriate (e.g. school) and the referring agency. The strategy discussion should be convened and led by local authority children’s social care and those participating should be sufficiently senior so that they are able to contribute to the discussion and make decisions on behalf of their own agencies.
Child Protection Enquiry – Social services, the police and possible the NSPCC work jointly to investigate and assess the need for child protection.
Child Protection Conference – If the reported concerns are confirmed by the enquiry, social services may call a child protection conference. This is a multi-agency meeting to agree whether any action is necessary. Those who have a relevant contribution to make may include at this stage:
* the child or his/her representative
* the child’s family members
* foster carers
* residential care staff
* local authority children’s social care staff who have been involved in an assessment of the child and the family
* Professionals involved with the child/young person e.g. school staff, health visitors, paediatricians, and early year’s staff
* Professionals involved with the parents or other family members e.g. family support services, GP’s and mental health.
* Professionals with expertise in the particular type of harm suffered by the child/young person
* Professionals involved in the investigation e.g. the police
* NSPCC or other voluntary organisations who are involved
* Local authority legal services
The conference may agree at this point to put the child/young person’s name on the child protection register.
Child Protection Plan – This plans the services to be provided in the future to keep the child/young person safe and to reduce or remove any risks.
Review – Regular follow-up meetings to assess progress and review needs and to decide on deregistration if the child/young person is deemed safe.
It is essential, at all times, that organisations who are involved when a child/young person has been abused or harmed, work together effectively so that the interests of the child is met and so that each individual can contribute to supporting the child’s safety and well-being.