Protecting Children & Young People Policy
PROTECTING CHILDREN & YOUNG PEOPLE POLICY
Published: 21 Sept 2023
Next Review: 20 Sept 2024
Protecting children and young people: The responsibilities of all staff and volunteers
Principles for protecting children and young people
The following principles should guide all staff and volunteers at YES Outdoors who are concerned about the safety or welfare of a child or young person.
- All children and young people have a right to be protected from abuse and neglect – all staff have a duty to act on any concerns they have about the safety or welfare of a child or young person.
- All staff must consider the needs and well-being of children and young people – this includes staff not directly related to working with that young person.
- Children and young people are individuals with rights – staff must not unfairly discriminate against a child or young person for any reason.
- Children and young people have a right to be involved in how they are protected – this includes the right to receive information that is appropriate to their maturity and understanding, and the right to be heard.
- Decisions made about children and young people must be made in their best interests
- Decisions about child protection are best made with others – consulting with the Project Manager and/or the Designated Safeguarding Lead is the first step in child protection decisions. This will ensure that the staff with the appropriate expertise will protect and promote the best interests of children and young people.
- Staff must be competent and work within their competence to deal with child protection issues – Staff must keep up to date with best practice through training that is appropriate to their role. They should seek advice from an experienced colleague if they are not sure how to meet their responsibilities to children and young people.
Confidentiality and sharing information
- Tell the project lead and/or the Designated Safeguarding Lead if you are concerned that a child or young person is at risk of, or is suffering, abuse or neglect. Get advice if you are concerned about the possibility of abuse or neglect, but do not believe that the child or young person is at risk of significant harm.
- Ask for consent to share information unless there is a compelling reason for not doing so. Information can be shared without consent if it is justified in the public interest or required by law. Do not delay disclosing information to obtain consent if that might put children or young people at risk of significant harm. Do not ask for consent if you have already decided to disclose information in the public interest.
- Tell your young person what information has been shared, with whom and why, unless doing this would put the child, young person or anyone else at increased risk.
- Get advice if you are not sure what information to share, who to share it with or how best to manage any risk associated with sharing information.
The principles of confidentiality
Reasonable levels of confidentiality is central to the trust between mentors and mentees. Without assurances about confidentiality, children and young people, as well as adults, may be reluctant to get advice and support.
Teenagers may be particularly concerned about keeping confidential information from their parents, schools, children’s services, the police and other statutory agencies. Young people, parents and other adults receiving psychiatric care, and other vulnerable people might have similarly increased concerns about sharing confidential information.
But sharing information appropriately is essential to providing safe, effective support, both for the individual and for the wider community. It is also at the heart of effective child protection. It is vital that all staff have the confidence to act on their concerns about the possible abuse or neglect of a child or young person.
Confidentiality is not an absolute duty. You can share confidential information about a person if any of the following apply.
- It is justified in the public interest – for example, if the benefits to a child or young person that will arise from sharing the information outweigh both the public and the individual’s interest in keeping the information confidential.
- The person the information relates to has given you their consent to share the information (or a person with parental responsibility has given consent if the information is about a child who does not have the capacity to give consent).
Sharing information about those at risk
You must report on our common assessment framework (CAF) form to ensure our safeguarding lead can inform an appropriate agency. This may be the local authority children’s services, the NSPCC or the police.
If a child or young person is at risk of, or is suffering, abuse or neglect, the possible consequences of not sharing relevant information will, in the overwhelming majority of cases, outweigh any harm that sharing your concerns with an appropriate agency might cause.
When telling an appropriate agency about your concerns, you should provide information about both of the following:
- the identities of the child or young person, their parents and any other person who may pose a risk to them
- the reasons for your concerns, including information about the child’s or young person’s behaviour, health, and any relevant information about their parents or carers.
You should ask for consent before sharing confidential information unless there is a compelling reason for not doing so. For example, because:
- delay in sharing relevant information with an appropriate person or authority would increase the risk of harm to the child or young person
- asking for consent may increase the risk of harm to the child, young person, you or anyone else.
- you have already decided that disclosure is justified in the public interest.
You should ask the child or young person for consent if they have the capacity to give it. If not, you should ask a person with parental responsibility. You should also ask for consent from any adults you want to share information about. When asking for consent, you should explain why you want to share information and how it will benefit the child or young person. You should also explain all of the following:
- what information you will share
- who you will share it with
- how the information will be used
- where they can go for independent advice and support
Sharing information without consent
You can share confidential information without consent if it is required by law, or directed by a court, or if the benefits to a child or young person that will arise from sharing the information outweigh both the public and the individual’s interest in keeping the information confidential. You must weigh the harm that is likely to arise from not sharing the information against the possible harm, both to the person and to the overall trust between staff and service users.
If a child or young person with capacity, or a parent, objects to information being disclosed, you should consider their reasons, and weigh the possible consequences of not sharing the information against the harm that sharing the information might cause. If a child or young person is at risk of, or is suffering, abuse or neglect, it will usually be in their best interests to share information with the appropriate agency.
If you share information without consent, you should explain why you have done so to the people the information relates to, unless doing this would put the child, young person or anyone else at increased risk. You should also record your decisions and the reasons why.
Delay in sharing information
Any decision to delay sharing information with an appropriate agency where a child or young person is at risk of, or is suffering, abuse or neglect must be taken cautiously and only in circumstances where the increased risk to the safety or welfare of the child or young person clearly outweighs the benefits of sharing information. You must be able to justify your decision. You must record the decision not to immediately share information, along with your reasons and any advice you have received.
If, exceptionally, you decide that sharing information immediately with the local authority children’s services or another appropriate agency would not be in the child’s or young person’s best interests, you should discuss this with the child or young person, or their parents. You must keep in contact with the child or young person and regularly review the decision to delay sharing information. You must try to make sure that the child or young person gets the care and support they need.
In sharing concerns about possible abuse or neglect, you are not making the final decision about how best to protect a child or young person. That is the role of the local authority children’s services and, ultimately, the courts. Even if it turns out that the child or young person is not at risk of, or suffering, abuse or neglect, sharing information will be justified as long as your concerns are honestly held and reasonable, you share the information with the appropriate agency, and you only share relevant information.
Following up your concerns
You can follow up your concerns via the Designated Safeguarding Lead who will support and advise. They may take your concerns to the next level of authority if you believe that the person or agency told about your concerns has not acted on them appropriately and a child or young person is still at risk of, or is suffering, abuse or neglect.
Minor concerns that might be part of a wider picture
Risks to children’s or young people’s safety and welfare often become apparent only when a number of people share what seem to be minor concerns. This may include people from different agencies. If a child’s or young person’s condition or behaviour leads you to consider abuse or neglect as one possible explanation, but you do not think that they are at risk of significant harm, you should discuss your concerns with your Designated Safeguarding Lead or Project Lead. You may want to speak with an experienced colleague. If possible, you should do this without revealing the identity of the child or young person.
If your discussions do not provide a clear view about the possibility of abuse or neglect, you should consider sharing limited relevant information with other agencies that are in contact with the child or young person to decide whether there is a risk that would justify sharing further information. Relevant information would include the identity of the child or young person and a brief summary of the cause for concern. You must ask for consent to do this. If the person or people you ask refuse to give consent, you should assess whether the possible benefits of sharing information outweigh those of keeping the information confidential.
If you are not satisfied that sharing information is justified in the circumstances, you should regularly review the position, considering the safety and welfare of the child or young person. You should encourage the parents, or child or young person, to get help and support. If you later become concerned that the child or young person is at risk of, or is suffering, abuse or neglect, you must tell the Designated Safeguarding Lead or Project Lead.
Responding to requests for information
This will be managed by the Designated Safeguarding Lead. They can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org They will consider all requests for information for child protection purposes seriously and quickly, bearing in mind that refusing to give this information, or a delay in doing so, could increase the risk of harm to a child or young person or undermine efforts to protect them.
Before sharing confidential information, The Designated Safeguarding Lead must do all of the following.
- Check the identity of the person who has asked for the information – for example, by calling them back if you receive a telephone request from a person or agency you do not recognise.
- Check that the request is valid, understand why the person or agency is asking for the information, what information they need, and how they may use the information in the future.
- Make sure that you have met one of the conditions for sharing information.
You should only share information that is relevant to the request. This will include information about the child or young person, their parents and any other relevant people in contact with the child or young person. Relevant information will include risk factors, such as drug and alcohol misuse, or previous instances of abuse or neglect.
If you are not sure whether to share information, you should discuss your concerns and the best way to manage any risk to a child or young person with the Designated Safeguarding Lead or Project Lead.
Sharing information within the project team
If a child or young person who is suspected to be at risk of, or suffering, abuse or neglect is referred for specialist healthcare, you should make sure that you include relevant information about the child protection concerns in the referral. You should tell the child or young person, or parents, what has been shared and with whom unless doing this would put the child, young person or anyone else at increased risk.