Child protection planning for childcare organisations
If you are involved with child protection planning or setting up, managing or running a childcare organisation, then you should spend some time to understand and plan for child protection. Since the laws and best practices change regularly, it’s also worth staying up to date on the changes.
Below are details of the requirements for child protection, and we also run Child Protection Courses, and Child Protection Refreshers so that you can quickly and easily get your skills up to date and keep them there.
All children and young people that are victims of abuse or neglect need to have access to proper services promptly, and every organisation must guarantee that they will.
Quality Improvement Plan (QIP)
All childcare organisations are required to have a Quality Improvement Plan. This plan will provide a point of reference for quality child protection practices in the organisation. Once an organisation prepares a QIP, it must be assessed by a regulator against the National Quality Standard. The regulator will identify areas within the QIP where improvements and changes should be made, and then submit the plan to the Regulatory Authority.
At any one time, an organisation may be asked to submit their QIP to the Regulatory Authority which must be done promptly. Staying on top of child protection practice is paramount, which is why all organisations must review their QIP annually as well as at any time when the Regulatory Authority issues a directive.
Child protection policy
A child protection policy is mandatory for childcare organisations. Just like the Quality Improvement Plan, a child protection policy needs to be designed in line with the New South Wales child protection laws. Having a child protection policy in childcare organisations ensures that everybody working in the organisation follows specific rules and guidelines for keeping children out of harm’s way.
A child protection policy incorporates various aspects including the Working with Children Check into your child protection planning that is a method of screening all members of staff to see that they are fit to engage in child-related work.
Child protection policy is subject to annual review and must always remain focused on promoting the welfare, safety and well-being of children. The policy must encompass organisational procedures that promote the total protection of children and youth.
Cultivating an organisational culture that upholds child protection
An organisation’s child protection policy stipulates the practices and procedures that each staff member is expected to adhere to. Continuous assessment of organisational practices is necessary to ensure that everybody is providing services to the children appropriately and proactively keeping the children safe.
Childcare services need to empower their staff to be confident about following the child protection policies and procedures. Such confidence is built by creating a working system so that when cases of abuse and neglect are reported, they are responded to with urgency and the victims given the attention and services they need. Also, all relevant child protection information should be made available to staff.
The requirement for mandatory reporting of any cases of abuse and neglect is one of the fundamental child protection practices. Mandatory reporting should be an ongoing agenda in staff meetings and highlighted regularly. Additionally, families who seek services in childcare organisations for their children have to be made aware of the responsibility of staff to report any suspected cases of abuse or neglect.
The one thing that childcare organisations must stress on is zero-tolerance to any form of abuse or neglect. Suspected instances of abuse are enough grounds to report to the supervisors and managers in an organisation and further to government authorities. Mandatory reporters do not need proof of abuse and reporting is what paves way for an investigation to find out the real situation in each case.
Part of the plan to actively uphold child protection practices, therefore, involves a continuous flow of information among everyone involved. As mandated by law, every staff member should go through child protection training. It is the responsibility of childcare organisations to ensure that their staff have acquired the right training and certification.
Code of Conduct
A Code of Conduct is a must-have for all childcare organisations. It explicitly states the appropriate and inappropriate ways of interacting with children. If staff members fail then disciplinary measure need to be applied as necessary, as well as paying attention to the underlying cause of the failure.
Besides the national laws, policies and procedures that are now in place to guarantee the protection of children and youth, every organisation should have a working plan and system to apply these laws, policies and procedures to benefit every child.