Staff Guide to Protecting Children
Everyone has a part to play in looking out for and protecting children. It is everybody’s job to make sure that children are protected from abuse. And by acting, perhaps when no one else will, you can make a world of difference to a child.
What to Look Out For
If you are working with a child in a nursery or in their own home, look out for changes in their personality or behaviour. Is a child you know behaving differently? Are they quieter than usual? Do they seem anxious or worried? Changes in a child’s behaviour can be a sign that something isn’t right.
Lothian Childcare Solutions highly recommends that you undertake a training course in Child Protection before commencing employment. This will inform you of the signs and behaviours to look for and how to deal with any concerns or disclosures.
Looking For Information on Training Courses?
What to Do
If you are working within a childcare service and you think a child is being abused or neglected, you should:
Phone the Police on 101 or in an emergency 999
Speak to a member of staff at the child’s nursery or school
Speak to any Health professional
Contact the duty social work team for the region you are working or the child is from
Mon-Thurs 9am-5pm and Fri 9am-4pm 01875 824 090
Emergency Social Work Service (outside normal office hours) 0800 731 6969
Address: Children’s Wellbeing, Randall House, Macmerry, EH33 1RW.
Office Hours 0131 271 3413
Out of Hours 0800 731 6969
Address: 7 Eskdaille Court, Dalkeith, Midlothian, EH22 1AG.
Monday to Thursday 8.30am-5pm, Friday 8.30am-3.55pm 0131 200 2324
The East and Midlothian Child Protection Committee is the key group who deal with child protection work in East Lothian and Midlothian.
If you are working alone with a child as a nanny or babysitter and a child discloses concerning information to you, they present unusual behaviours or you notice something that concerns you, you must record all your observations and any conversations with the child, remembering not to lead the conversation. Only ask open questions using Why, Who, Where and What. Recorded information should be factual, you should not include your own judgements or opinions. You will be supplied with observation sheets and serious incident forms which you should use and send to Pamela at Lothian Childcare Solutions immediately after any incident.
Any questions should be directed immediately to Lothian Childcare Solutions or Children’s Services duty social worker (as above). You must inform Lothian Childcare Solutions about all concerns without delay so that concerns can be recorded and followed up.
Child abuse can happen to any child and in any family background. We all have a duty to protect children, whether we are professionals or private individuals.
Be The One a Child Can Talk To
Children sometimes struggle with problems because they have no trusted adult to turn to. Make time for a child who wants to talk about home, school or friends. If a child shares any worries, however minor they seem, make time to listen. Let them know that talking is always better than keeping quiet and that you care.
Some children don’t want to talk face-to-face. They might prefer to call or chat online to someone confidentially at an organisation such as ChildLine.
Tel: 0800 1111
Remember to keep a record of any concerning conversations with children and inform Lothian Childcare Solutions immediately.
Be There For Families Under Stress
Parenting can be hugely rewarding. But everyone who cares for a child can find it challenging from time to time. If you notice that a family is struggling, ask yourself whether there is anything you can do to help.
Remember to inform Lothian Childcare Solutions of any concerns as we may be able to help.
Don’t Turn a Blind Eye
You see a young child wandering unsupervised and alone. You witness a parent or carer verbally or physically abusing a child. What do you do? In situations such as these it’s all too easy to assume someone else will do something or that it is an isolated incident. But what if this is not the case and no-one reports it? Working with children, you have a duty of care and responsibility under the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) or any other professional body you might be registered with, to report concerns. Here are possible ways you can act. Being on the spot, you’ll be best placed to decide exactly what to do. But whatever you do, do something if it becomes clear that otherwise a child could come to harm.
If you believe a child is in immediate danger – call the Police on 999
Inform Lothian Childcare Services immediately
A stressed parent or carer may welcome an offer of practical help. For example, with getting ready or doing something at home, or when leaving their child in nursery. Sometimes helping to distract or amuse their child might be just what’s needed to calm a situation. Show empathy. Most people will appreciate help, but not if it comes with judgmental comments. If you see a young child wondering alone, you could ask them if they need help. It may be best to tell other adults who are around what you plan to do first, so they don’t misinterpret your intentions.
While a parent or carer is losing their temper with a child they may react badly to any attempt by you to get involved. So, if you know that you will have an opportunity to talk to them later once tempers have cooled, and the child isn’t at risk of immediate harm, it may be best to delay.
Not everyone has the confidence to get involved directly. And sometimes, for example because they are busy looking after children themselves, it’s not an option. If you’re worried about a child but don’t think you can get involved yourself, you should tell someone who can – a teacher, manager, or whoever is best placed to help, including Pamela Cormack at Lothian Childcare Solutions.