Waiuku Family Support Child Protection Policy 2016

 

Policy Summary

 

The Children’s Action Plan is a framework to protect children. It is a living document that will continue to evolve as New Zealanders learn how to better identify and respond to vulnerable children.

The Children’s Action Plan includes a commitment to support organization’s to better identify and respond to potential child abuse and neglect; this includes helping organization’s to adopt high-quality child protection policies and to build cultures of child protection.

This commitment is reinforced by the Vulnerable Children Act 2014. This places obligations on State services and organisation’s contracted or funded by State services to have child protections policies to review then and report on these requirements regularly.

 

Purpose statement

 

We have an obligation to ensure the wellbeing of children in our care and are committed to the prevention of child abuse and neglect and the protection of all children. The safety and wellbeing of the child is our top priority when investigating suspected or alleged abuse.

We support the roles of the New Zealand Police and Child, Youth and Family in the investigation of suspected abuse and will report suspected / alleged abuse to these agencies.

We support families / whanau to protect their children

We provide a safe environment, free from physical, emotional, verbal or sexual abuse.

 

Policy principles

 

  • The interest and protection of the child is paramount in all actions.
  • We recognize the rights of the family / whanau to participate in the decision making about their children.
  • We have a commitment to ensure that all employees are trained to identify the signs and symptoms of potential abuse and neglect and are able to take appropriate action in response.
  • We are committed to supporting all staff to work in accordance with this policy, to work with partner agencies and organizations to ensure child protection policies are consistent and high quality.
  • We will always comply with relevant legislative responsibilities.
  • We are committed to share information in a timely way and to discuss any concerns about an individual child with colleagues or the Person in Charge.
  • We are committed to promote a culture where staff feel confident that they can constructively challenge poor practice or raise issues of concern without fear of reprisal.

 

Definitions

 

Child abuse: Includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse as well as neglect which is the direct consequence of a deliberate act or omission by an adult and which has the potential or effect of serious harm to the child.

 

Responding to suspected abuse or neglect

 

All suspicions or observed incidents or reports of incidents should be reported directly to the Person in Charge as soon as possible, who will immediately take steps to protect the child, record the report and report the concern to Child, Youth and Family.

If there is clear evidence or reasonable cause to believe an instance of child abuse having taken place, the Person in Charge shall notify Child, Youth and Family.

In addition to guiding staff to make referrals of suspected child abuse and neglect to the statutory agencies, this child protection policy will also help staff to identify and respond to the needs of the many vulnerable children whose wellbeing is of concern.

In many of these cases the involvement of statutory agencies would be inappropriate and potentially harmful to families / whanau. Throughout New Zealand statutory and non-statutory agencies provide a network of mutually supportive services and it is important for our organisation to work with these to respond to the needs of vulnerable children and families / whanau in a manner proportionate to the level of need and risk.

Staff members will discuss suspicions with a senior staff member.

Where appropriate, the person making the allegation will be given a copy of this policy.

 

Allegations or concerns about staff

 

When a staff member is suspected, the same processes apply.

If there is a need to pursue an allegation as an employer, consult with Child, Youth and Family or the Police before advising the person concerned, informing them that they have a right to seek legal advice and providing them with an opportunity to respond. They should also be informed of their right to seek support from the relevant union / representative body. It is vital to follow ordinary disciplinary policies, guided by the employment contract / collective employment contract and relevant statutory obligations.

We commit not to use settlement agreements where these are contrary to a culture of child protection. Some settlement agreements allow a member of staff to agree to resign provided that no disciplinary action is taken, and a future reference is agreed. Where the conduct at issue concerned the safety and wellbeing of a child, use of such agreements is contrary to a culture of child protection.

 

 Confidentiality and information sharing

 

The Privacy Act 1993 and the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1989 allow information to be shared to keep children safe when abuse or suspected abuse is reported or investigated.  Note that under sections 15 and 16 of the CYPF Act, any person who believes that a child has been, or is likely to be, harmed physically, emotionally or sexually or ill-treated, abused, neglected or deprived may report the matter to Child, Youth and Family or the Police and, provided the report is made in good faith, no civil, criminal or disciplinary proceedings may be brought against them.

 

Recruitment and employment (safety checking)

 

Safety checking will be carried out in accordance with the Vulnerable Children Act 2014. This will include: a police vet on all staff and volunteers; references and an interview. A work history will be sought and previous employers will be contacted. If there is any suspicion that an applicant might pose a risk to a child, the applicant will not be employed.

 

Training, supervision and support

 

Training, supervision and support will be available to ensure that all staff carry out their roles in terms of this policy, particularly:

  • Understanding child abuse and the indicators or child abuse
  • How to reduce the risk of child abuse
  • Understanding and complying with legal obligations in regards to child abuse
  • Working with outside agencies on child abuse issues
  • Planning of environment and supervision to minimize risk
  • Dealing with child / parents / family / whanau

This policy will be part of the initial staff induction programme.