Safeguarding Children and Adults at Risk Policy
(Updated December 2022)
Safeguarding Lead: Mary Taylor, Head of Programmes
Deputy Safeguarding Lead: Peter Leonard, CEO
Safeguarding Trustee: Wendy Rose, Trustee
1. Safeguarding Children and Adults at Risk
Family Links is committed to the welfare of all children and adults at risk. When working in England, Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland, Family Links adheres to the policies relevant to each nation and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility, and Family Links expects all employees and trainers to share this responsibility. Family Links has a specific role in safeguarding children and adults at risk through its training of practitioners, its direct work with parents and children and in its recruitment procedures.
2. Safeguarding and Promoting the Welfare of Children
protecting children from maltreatment;
preventing impairment of children’s health or development;
ensuring that children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care;
undertaking that role so as to enable those children to have optimum life chances and enter adulthood successfully
Child protection is a part of safeguarding and promoting welfare. This refers to the duty to protect specific children who are suffering, or at risk of suffering significant harm. Family Links recognises its responsibility to be proactive and safeguard and promote the welfare of children so that the need for action to protect children from harm is reduced.
2.1 Definitions of abuse and neglect
Abuse and neglect are forms of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting, by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger for example, via the internet. They may be abused by an adult or adults, or another child or children.
Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child.
Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may include not giving the child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond the child’s developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying (including cyberbullying), causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone.
Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or
in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet). Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy, for example as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:
provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment);
protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger;
ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-givers); or
ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment.
It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.
Domestic violence and abuse are defined as: “Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse: psychological; physical, sexual, financial and emotional.” Domestic abuse always has an impact on children and being exposed to domestic abuse in childhood is child abuse.
Children may experience domestic abuse directly, but they can also experience it indirectly by:
hearing the abuse from another room
seeing someone they care about being injured and/or distressed
finding damage to their home environment like broken furniture
being hurt from being caught up in or trying to stop the abuse
not getting the care and support they need from their parents or carers as a result of the abuse
2.2 Safeguarding Children in Practice
When training practitioners, running groups, conducting research or in any contact with parents and/or children it is important to be clear about confidentiality and when information would need to be shared. While personal information held by professionals and agencies is subject to a legal duty of confidence and should not normally be disclosed without the subject’s consent, when there are concerns that a child or an adult is or may be at risk of significant harm, then the over-riding objective must be to safeguard that child or adult and disclosure of information is imperative.
Confidentiality and child protection should be discussed with parents, children and young people at the beginning of any group or piece of work, and reminders and information given from time to time, to ensure that they understand the processes and what responsibilities the staff members have. It is essential to be clear about the limits of confidentiality well before any such matter arises.
Should it become necessary to pass on information shared by another party, this decision should be discussed with the parent/carer and where possible their co-operation sought beforehand, unless to do so would put the child at increased risk of harm. Explanations of the reasons; the processes; the likely sequence of events; who to contact for information or for support should also be provided.
What to do if you are worried a child is at risk of harm
Any Family Links trainer or employee concerned about the welfare of a child should in the first instance share their concerns with either:
the safeguarding lead at Family Links, Mary Taylor, Head of Programmes, or the deputy safeguarding lead, Peter Leonard, CEO
or the Child Protection lead of the setting where the parent/child is seen.
If a child is in immediate danger the police must be contacted via 999.
If concerns remain a referral should be made to the relevant local authority children’s social care, followed up in writing within 48hours. As above this should only be done with the knowledge and consent of the parent, unless the child is considered to be at risk of significant harm when the need to safeguard the child must be paramount.
The Safeguarding Lead at Family Links will be kept informed of any safeguarding issues and written records or other confidential information will be kept in a locked filing cabinet. Any written records will be signed and dated with specific reference to the circumstances in which the disclosure/observation took place. Where possible, the parent or child’s own words will be recorded. Records will include date, time, place, what was seen or heard by whom, person(s) present, what action was taken, by whom and why.
3. Safeguarding Adults at Risk
Since the Law Commission report in 2011 the term “vulnerable adults” has been replaced by “adults at risk”. Under this policy Adults at Risk are those:
Aged 18 years or over;
Who may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness; and
Who is or may be unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation.
3.1 Definition of Abuse of Adults
Abuse may include one or more of the following:
Discriminatory abuse, including that based on a person’s ethnic origin, religion, language, age, sexuality, gender, disability, and other forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment;
Sexual abuse, including rape and sexual assault, contact or non-contact sexual acts to which the adult at risk has not consented, or could not consent or was pressurised into consenting;
Psychological abuse, including emotional abuse, threats of harm or
abandonment, deprivation of contact or communication, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, isolation or withdrawal from services or supportive networks;
Financial or material abuse, including theft, fraud, exploitation, pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits;
Neglect or acts of omission, including ignoring medical or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, social care or educational services, the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating; failure to report abuse or risk of abuse;
Physical abuse; including hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, misuse of medication, inappropriate restraint, or inappropriate sanctions; and
Institutional abuse; indicated by repeated instances of unsatisfactory professional practice, pervasive ill treatment or gross misconduct indicating an abusive climate.
3.2 Safeguarding of Adults in Practice
What to do if you are worried an adult at risk is experiencing abuse or neglect
Any Family Links trainer or employee who is concerned that an adult at risk is experiencing abuse or neglect should share their concerns with either:
the safeguarding lead at Family Links, Mary Taylor, Head of Programmes, or the deputy safeguarding lead, Peter Leonard, CEO
or Adult social care in the area in which the adult at risk resides.
If the adult is in immediate danger the police must be contacted via 999.
If concerns remain a referral should be made to the relevant local authority adult social care, followed up in writing within 48 hours.
At induction all staff will be made aware of Family Links commitment to safeguarding children and protecting adults at risk. All new staff are given time to read the relevant policies and are asked to sign to say they have read and understood them.
All staff who train practitioners and/or come into contact with children and/or parents will attend biannual safeguarding training. This will be provided by their own local Safeguarding Children’s Board and/or the NSPCC. A record is kept of this by the Head of Operations and HR.
Family Links training courses for practitioners contain explicit sections on, and references to safeguarding. Practitioners and their employing authorities remain responsible for ensuring that they understand and adhere to their local and national safeguarding procedures.
5. Recruitment and Selection of staff
All employees of Family Links who are involved in training or come into direct contact with children or adults who may be at risk will be required to undergo a criminal record check.
All references for employment will be checked before employment commences. A full work record will be obtained, with an explanation of any gaps.
6. Suspicions/Disclosure regarding abuse by a member of staff
Any concerns about possible abuse by a member of staff will be immediately reported to the CEO who will inform the Safeguarding Trustee. All conversations will be recorded and a decision made by the CEO and the trustee whether to consult with the local authority designated officer. The decision made and the reasons for it will be clearly documented. In order to safeguard themselves against allegations of abuse the employees of Family Links must take steps to ensure they are not left alone with a child.
7. Role of Trustees
Safeguarding is the responsibility of all trustees who need to have a good awareness of the safeguarding policy and practice. The named Safeguarding Trustee is there to provide a confidential, listening ear and be a critical friend to the Safeguarding Leads, reflecting together on any concerns and reviewing this policy on an annual basis, and in the light of any incident. The trustee will also lead support, advise and guide the board on safeguarding matters.
8. Safeguarding Leads
The Safeguarding Leads will undertake local Advanced Safeguarding Level 3 Training every 2 years (a record of this is kept by HR)
The Safeguarding Lead will conduct an annual survey of Family Links publications and resources to check/update where necessary any references to safeguarding.
The Safeguarding Leads will encourage all employees to maintain awareness of safeguarding matters and their ongoing responsibility in this area. The Safeguarding Leads will pass on any significant updates through Team Meetings, Away Days and Refresher Days.
The Safeguarding Leads will meet with the Safeguarding Trustee annually to review policy and practice at Family Links and update this policy as necessary each year.