Safeguarding Policy

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1.1 Introduction

Blue Elephant Childcare places the young people at the very centre of everything it does and aims to do, towards this end ‘safeguarding’ of our young people is of paramount importance and ‘safeguarding’ should be at the forefront of every staff member thought when planning, interacting or observing our young people.

Safeguarding is best achieved when everyone from every agency works together sharing information and concerns openly and professionally. Local safeguarding procedures are available online at (https://www.proceduresonline.com/swcpp/ ) this is a gateway page which enables you to click on and obtain each individual safeguarding boards individual policy and procedures. It is important to have a general understanding of safeguarding and your basic safeguarding training will give this in a generic way; however, it is important that you are familiar with the local procedure for each young person in your care and this is where this gateway becomes most useful.

This policy is shared with all new staff before they join us via pre-induction safeguarding training. This training is completed before new staff come to their Head Office induction on their first day of employment.

This training consists of:

On their first day of employment, staff receive face to face Operational Safeguarding training, they will then receive Safeguarding Level 2 face to face before they complete probation. Online Safeguarding training is completed annually, and Safeguarding Level 2 is completed every 2 years.

This policy can be found on the Policy and Procedure file on SharePoint and on our website.

1.2 Statement of Intent

Blue Elephant Childcare are committed to the safeguarding of all young people and particularly those within its direct care. The young people who are resident within a Blue Elephant children’s home or are receiving services directly from Blue Elephant staff will have such service delivered by staff who are trained to understand the signs and symptoms of abuse, who understand the procedures they must follow if they suspect abuse and are committed to the safe and positive care of our young people.

The following elements and principles are important in our safeguarding of the young people in our care.

(Please note that all Blue Elephant policies and procedures are written with the safeguarding of children and young people at the forefront of the author’s thoughts.)

The importance of positive touch

Physical touch forms an important element of ‘responsive care’ and should be considered carefully in line with each individual child’s risk assessment and behaviour support plan. When supporting children who have experienced trauma or adverse childhood experiences, physical touch should still be part of a child’s care but be provided in a way that ensures both the child and adult are safe. It is also important to consider that denying a child the opportunity of positive, appropriate touch could compound feelings of rejection for the child.

Positive touch not only promotes a child’s social and emotional development but is also a highly effective and powerful method of non-verbal communication, is key to the development of healthy relationships and a method of stress relief. It can be used to:

When appropriate touch is not encouraged, as often happens, then all touch has the potential to become sexualised. Children don’t learn to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate touch. They miss out on a whole range of valuable touch experiences – friendly, nurturing, reassuring, comforting and healing. We should be instilling a sense of what appropriate touch is.

Research has shown that positive touch is beneficial for early bonding, stress reduction, and state regulation (Harrison, 2001); it also can improve attentiveness and sleep problems in some children with autism (Escalona, Field, Singer-Strunck, Cullen, & Hartshorn, 2001 Cullen LA, Barlow JH, Cushway D. 2005). For children with delays and disabilities, positive touch has been used effectively to enhance caregiver-child interactions and increase the child’s comfort (Pardew & Bunse, 2005). Field, T (2010) explored the importance of ‘Touch for socioemotional and physical well-being’.

Due to their history, some children may need to be supported to understand the importance of personal space and appropriate touch; the reassurance and human compassion appropriate touch provides should though still be considered for all of our children. Forms of appropriate touch may be welcomed or perceived differently by children according to their age and development. Teenage children may respond to a ‘high five’, fist bump, a reassuring touch to the arm, back or shoulder or a side-to-side hug. It may be appropriate that a child seeks a ‘normal’ hug but this will be as a result of a risk assessment identifying that this is safe practice, and it may only be with adults the child trusts and is very familiar with. This should happen when the hug is observed by another adult if possible. Generally, touch to the side is safe and avoids the risk of unintentional, inappropriate touch, an allegation or the child mis-interpreting the reassurance being provided.

We are seeing an increase in the need to provide care for primary aged children in our homes and the dynamic and importance of physical, nurturing touch may be different for these children. It is considered age appropriate that an adult may hold a young child’s hand when out walking, particularly if this enables the adult to keep the child safe. An adult may also graciously accept a good morning hug from a younger child, have them sat on their lap when they are watching television or playing a game, or if the child is upset or distressed. It may be helpful and reassuring to hug the child when sat beside them on the sofa or offer strokes to the back when supporting the child to sleep, for example. These elements of practice should be set out in the child’s behaviour support plan and, where possible, colleagues should offer cursory supervision to ensure the child and adult are safe.

An important consideration for supporting a primary aged child may be the need to help them wash, bathe and dry themselves. Due to their history, this element of self-care may have been neglected and it will be important for the adult to ‘teach’ the child how to wash and dry themselves and the importance of cleanliness in intimate areas of the body. A child should always be offered to wear a bathing suit at bath time if that is their preference. Adults should consider this an important part of their practice and communicate with colleagues when planning to bathe a child and ensure cursory supervision by a colleague where this is possible. This may be difficult or not possible in some homes where colleagues are busy or out supporting other children, but wherever possible it should be planned to ensure that a colleague is available to provide an element of supervision.

It is vital that staff should always consider the child’s gender, race, disability, and age when using touch as individuals may be used to experiencing different levels or types of touch. An individual’s history may also influence who represents a ‘safe’ adult to them. In addition, some individuals may be used to differing levels of touch as part of their cultural upbringing. All staff have a responsibility to ensure that all practice at Blue Elephant Childcare Ltd is safe, sensitive and appropriate.

Employees and gifts

There may be times, or special occasions, when staff feel that it is appropriate to give a gift to a child, such as to celebrate an achievement or exam, a birthday, anniversary or Christmas. It is acceptable to give our children gifts and reflects the rituals and affection of normal family life. However, the giving of gifts must always be subject to transparency in that the Manager of the home is informed and a record of any such gift is clearly agreed and recorded. Professional diligence in this area avoids the risk of an allegation of 'grooming' by the adult, from colleagues or the children.

Consideration must also be given to the value of any gift; it should not be excessive in value and if there is more than one child in the home, the team should also be mindful of the other young person's feelings and their perceived equality of 'care' and kindness.

Similarly, there may be occasions when a child, or perhaps a parent, gives a present to an adult in the home, as a token of thanks or respect. Whilst such gifts can be graciously received, it is just as important to inform the Manager of the gift received to again ensure transparency and avoid collusion or the risk of any allegation. Gifts from parents or children must never be requested or expected.

1.3 Designated Safeguarding Personnel

Within Blue Elephant Childcare the designated safeguarding personnel are the Home’s Manager and the DSL/ Responsible Individual and Nominated Individual.

Home Manager

Designated safeguarding lead

and Responsible Individual: Lucy Squire 07834508124

If neither are available, the nominated individual can act in their stead until they are available to continue the procedures.

Nominated Individual: Abigail Milton 07734848268

All incidents or causes for concern must be raised with the above people immediately.

1.4 Responding to allegations or suspicions of abuse

Blue Elephant work predominantly with children and young people from the Southwest peninsula, the local authorities of the Southwest peninsula have a gateway site for their safeguarding procedures which is https://www.proceduresonline.com/swcpp/ each local authority has its own distinct procedures to follow, and staff should make themselves aware of the procedures of the local authority responsible for each of the children and young people they are caring for. (Where this local authority is not part of the Southwest peninsula, they should get their procedures directly from the local authority concerned).

When an initial concern or incident occurs.

  1. The staff member should clarify in their own minds, without asking questions, if the situation, concern or information presented satisfies the criteria for possible abuse.

  2. If so, the staff member should listen.

  3. They must not.

1.5 Definitions of Abuse

Child abuse consists of anything which individuals, institutions or processes do, or fail to do, which directly or indirectly harms children or damages their prospects of a safe and healthy development into adulthood.

There are four main categories of abuse and neglect: Physical Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Sexual Abuse and Neglect. We have also included both Sexual and Criminal Exploitation in this section and female genital mutilation.

CONTEXTUAL SAFEGUARDING

Contextual Safeguarding is an approach to safeguarding that recognises that young people may be at risk of significant harm not only within their own home environment, but also outside it. The traditional safeguarding approach does not consider extra-familial contexts, which has led to cases of abuse and exploitation falling under the radar.
Extra-Familial context include young people’s peer groups, support networks, online contacts, and local community or neighbourhood. Safeguarding concerns in these contexts could consist of harassment or violence from their peers, a risk of grooming - whether online or in person – high levels of crime or gang violence in your local area, missing episodes, radicalisation, trafficking and modern slavery.
Contextual safeguarding approach aims to disrupt harmful extra-familial contexts rather than move young people away from them. Just as with traditional safeguard referring and repotting should be carried out in the same way. Apart from, instead of referring an individual you would make a group referral (to include your young person of concern) to children services.

1.51 Physical Abuse.

Physical abuse is deliberately physically hurting a child. It might take a variety of different forms, including hitting, pinching, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning or suffocating a child.

Physical abuse can happen in any family, but children may be more at risk if their parents have problems with drugs, alcohol and mental health or if they live in a home where domestic abuse happens.

Babies and disabled children also have a higher risk of suffering physical abuse.

Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child. Physical abuse can also occur outside of the family environment.

Taken directly from HM Government document ‘What to do if you’re worried a child is being abused – Advice for practitioners’ March 2015

1.52 Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child. It is also sometimes called psychological abuse and it can have severe and persistent adverse effects on a child’s emotional development.

Although the effects of emotional abuse might take a long time to be recognisable, practitioners will be able to observe it, for example: In the way that a parent interacts with their child. Emotional abuse may involve deliberately telling a child that they are worthless, or unloved and inadequate. It may include not giving a child opportunity to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate.

Emotional abuse may involve serious bullying – including online bullying through social networks, online games or mobile phones – by a child’s peers.

Taken directly from HM Government document ‘What to do if you’re worried a child is being abused – Advice for practitioners’ March 2015

1.53 Sexual Abuse and Exploitation

Sexual abuse is any sexual activity with a child. You should be aware that many children and young people who are victims of sexual abuse do not recognise themselves as such. A child may not understand what is happening and may not even understand that it is wrong. Sexual abuse can have a long-term impact on mental health.

Sexual abuse 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 clothing. It may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in the production of sexual images, forcing children to look at sexual images or watch 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 commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.

Child sexual exploitation is a form of sexual abuse where children are sexually exploited for money, power or status. It can involve violent, humiliating and degrading sexual assaults. In some cases, young people are persuaded or forced into exchanging sexual activity for money, drugs, gifts, affection or status. Consent cannot be given, even where a child may believe they are voluntarily engaging in sexual activity with the person who is exploiting them. Child sexual exploitation doesn't always involve physical contact and can happen online. A significant number of children who are victims of sexual exploitation go missing from home, care and education at some point.

If you worried about online abuse or the way someone has been communicating with you or the children in your care online?

Make a report to one of CEOP's Child Protection Advisors

https://www.ceop.police.uk/safety-centre/

1.54 Criminal Exploitation

“Child criminal exploitation is common in county lines and occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, control, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18. The victim may have been criminally exploited even if the activity appears consensual. Child criminal exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology.”

Taken from the Home Office Guidance

Criminal exploitation of children and vulnerable adults: county lines
Updated 7 February 2020
Criminal exploitation often involves ‘county lines and the above guidance is a valuable resource in understanding the connection between the two. The way we react to criminal exploitation is no different to that of any other abuse; However, the signs are often different and sometimes hidden within other behaviours and activities.
A young person’s involvement in county lines activity often leaves signs. A person might exhibit some of these signs, either as a member or as an associate of a gang dealing drugs. Any sudden changes in a person’s lifestyle should be discussed with them.
Some potential indicators of county lines involvement and exploitation are listed below, with those at the top of particular concern:

If you suspect that a child is at immediate risk, you must contact the police straight away and take steps to make the child safe until such time as the police arrive.
The response to criminal exploitation should be the same as for any other abuse.
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/criminal-exploitation-of-children-and-vulnerable-adults-county-lines/criminal-exploitation-of-children-and-vulnerable-adults-county-lines#signs-to-look-out-for

1.55 Neglect

Neglect is a pattern of failing to provide for a child’s basic needs, whether it be adequate food, clothing, hygiene, supervision or shelter. It is likely to result in the serious impairment of a child’s health or development.
Children who are neglected often also suffer from other types of abuse. It is important that practitioners remain alert and do not miss opportunities to take timely action.
However, while you may be concerned about a child, neglect is not always straightforward to identify.
Neglect may occur if a parent becomes physically or mentally unable to care for a child. A parent may also have an addiction to alcohol or drugs, which could impair their ability to keep a child safe or result in them prioritising buying drugs, or alcohol, over food, clothing or warmth for the child. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal drug or alcohol abuse.

Taken directly from HM Government document ‘What to do if you’re worried a child is being abused – Advice for practitioners’ March 2015.

1.56 Female Genital Mutilation

Definition of FGM

FGM is a collective term for procedures that include the removal of part or all the external female genitalia for cultural or other non-medical reasons. The practice is medically unnecessary, extremely painful and has serious health consequences, both at the time when the mutilation is carried out and in later life. The procedure may be carried out shortly after birth, during childhood or adolescence, just before marriage or during a woman’s first pregnancy. It is a one-off act of abuse that has dangerous implications and lifelong consequences.

For further details around the subject of FGM please follow this link Female Genital Mutilation Risk and Safeguarding Guidance for professionals: Department of Health

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/safeguarding-women-and-girls-at- risk-of-FGM

We have produced a more detailed guide to spotting and reporting FGM, and it can be found in appendix 1

1.6 The Devon Children and Families Partnership (DCFP) and Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)

1.61 The Devon Children and Families Partnership (DCFP)

Children in Devon are best safeguarded when key agencies work together effectively.

The Devon Children and Families Partnership is designed to help make this happen.

It is our aim to make sure that children and families can get the right support, in the right place at the right time.

In response to Working Together to Safeguarding Children (July 2018) the DCFP partners – Devon County Council, NEW Devon CCG, Devon & Cornwall Police and Children & Family Health Devon – agreed and published our local Safeguarding Arrangements for Children and Young People in Devon.

This details how:

Taken from DCFP website.

1.62 M.A.S.H

A Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hubs provide information sharing across all organisations involved in safeguarding- encompassing statutory, non-statutory and third sector sources. Essentially, they analyse information that is already known within separate organisations in a coherent format to inform all safeguarding decisions.

All partners work together to provide the highest level of knowledge and analysis to make sure that all safeguarding activity and intervention is timely, proportionate and necessary.

M.A.S.H. focusses on three key functions.

Each home should have the M.A.S.H. contact details for each local authority of each child or young person in their care, although the local authority of where the home is situated should be the first point of contact different authorities have different procedures.

Taken from the Devon County Council website

1.7 Regulations and Standards

The key children’s homes legislation is to be found in;

The duties and responsibilities of local authorities and others who deliver children’s services regarding safeguarding children are set out in the statutory guidance “Working together to safeguard children” (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/working-together-to-safeguard-children--2)

The specific responsibilities of the child or young person’s social worker acting on behalf of the placing authority, for safeguarding children and young people who are looked after are set out in Children Act 1989: Care planning, placement and case review. (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/children-act-1989-care-planning-placement-and-case-review )

1.8 Allegations against Staff and the role of LADO

When an allegation is made against a member of staff this must always be taken seriously and reported to the home manager, who then takes responsibility for the matter. (If the home manager is the one accused the matter should be reported directly to the DSL/ Responsible Individual, and the Managing Director).

The priority is to ensure the safety and welfare of the child or young person, and any other children or young people that may be at risk by encountering the staff member, therefore any such concern should be shared immediately and if necessary, the staff member concerned moved or suspended, this decision is made by the Home Manager or their line managers. If a staff member is suspended from their duties, they will not have access to any of Blue Elephants computer systems during their suspension period.

The matter will be referred to the LADO and their instructions will be followed.

The manager must obtain the following information:

The matter will have three related, but independent strands:

This referral to the LADO will aim to establish the following:

Further information can be found in What to do if you are worried a child is being abused (March 2015)

(https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/419604/What_to_do_if_you_re_worried_a_child_is_being_abused.pdf )

1.9 Prevention of Abuse

The prevention of abuse must be paramount in working with children and young people who live with or receive services from Blue Elephant.

Staff will be trained in safeguarding, including the identification of abuse and what to do should abuse be suspected: however, it is also crucial that staff understand the young people they are working with, including their history and backgrounds, what medications they take and any side effects that may affect them, staff should be aware of each child and young person’s care plan, behaviour plan and risk assessment. By understanding everything available about a child or young person the staff member has the tools available to work in a positive and supportive way, promoting the safety and welfare of that child or young person.

Building a working professional relationship with the child or young person will make them much more likely to be open and honest about what is going on in their lives, especially when they are away from the home, but also what is happening within the home, and relationship issues or episodes of bullying which may not be evident on a first look.

Staff must also be vigilant to the colleagues and their behaviours towards the children and young people and their other colleagues. Working in social care can establish strong friendships but these must be put aside when it comes to the safeguarding of young people. Every staff member must be aware that they may have to report a colleague if their behaviour or attitude falls below the high standards required to work for Blue Elephant.

Staff must be aware of the whereabouts and actions of each young person in their charge and check on them in a non-invasive way at regular intervals. Where a young person is ‘on trust’ regular welfare checks should be made either over the telephone or in person. Children and young people should not be allowed to wander around town centres without purpose as this can often lead to harmful behaviours.

Where a child or young person goes missing every effort should be made to locate them and regular attempts should be made to look for them and to try and make contact using their mobile phone, known friends and acquaintances or social media. When they return, they should be interviewed by an independent local authority representative, but the staff should also try and find out why they went missing and where they were when they were missing and what needs to happen to help stop them from going missing again.

Prevention is always better than the alternative when it comes to safeguarding.

Safer recruitment is of paramount importance to Blue Elephant and every staff member recruited to work with children and young people in the care of Blue Elephant will have a vigorous and in-depth recruitment experience. (Recruitment is covered in the recruitment policy)

1.10 Sexual Exploitation

Sexual exploitation is the sexual abuse of children, this policy only separates it from other types of abuse as it is now much more prevalent than previously understood.

Many of the children and Young People we look after may have experienced sexual abuse and remain susceptible to continuing harm, engaging in risk taking behaviours such as continued association with offenders and going missing.

Recent research has identified an increased risk for Young People of sexual exploitation and trafficking, Blue Elephant Childcare are committed to the Southwest safeguarding and Child Protection Policy in general and the link below takes you to the relevant site.

( www.online-procedures.co.uk/swcpp/contents/guidance-child-protection/exploitation-and-trafficking-of-children/ )

1.11 Prevent

Prevent is one of four work strands which make up the Government ‘s counter-terrorism strategy – CONTEST. The aim of CONTEST is to reduce the risk to the UK and its interests overseas from terrorism.

The Four Strands to Prevent are as follows:

Pursue – focuses on detecting, investigating and disrupting terrorist threats to the UK and our interests overseas.

Protect – aims to reduce the vulnerability of the UK and UK interests overseas to terrorist attack. This includes aviation security for both cargo and passengers.

Prepare – aims to minimise the impact of any attack, manage any incidence of an ongoing attack and recover quickly and effectively

Prevent – aims to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism

All educational establishments now offer a broad and well-balanced curriculum which promotes spiritual, moral and cultural development of the learners. All educational establishments take the approach of aiming to protect its leaners from harm and to ensure awareness is consistent with the Law, Government guidance on counter terrorism and understanding of British values.

As the preventative strand of CONTEST, Prevent will.

All staff will undergo PREVENT training and particularly how to speak to our children and young people in a way which promotes British values without isolating those with differing views, this is particularly important as children and young people who are looked after may have missed significant amounts of education and may not have received the learning around PREVENT, this can make them more susceptible to radicalisation.

1.12 CONTACT WITH CHILDREN WHEN MEMBER OF STAFF HAS LEFT THE HOME/OR CHILD HAS LEFT THE HOME

At Blue Elephant we cultivate a caring relationship with the children and then when we move on these ends. It is then expected we have little or no contact, which may make children feel confused about attachment and relationships.

For Safeguarding reasons, it is vital that contact following staff moving on must be managed in a way that demonstrates it is in the best interest of the child and protects the staff member. As such there should be no contact with the child. However, there may be special circumstances when continued contact and support is vital. Should this be the case this will be agreed in advance by Social Services, family and Blue Elephant.

An example because continued contact and support may be vital, is if the child/young person is about to move to independence.

1.13 Conclusion

This policy is designed to help keep children and young people in care of or receiving the services of Blue Elephant safe.

The policy helps staff to work in a safe and positive way with young people and this is enhanced by conducting regular risk assessments both written and dynamic.

Staff will be encouraged to talk to each other to discuss concerns and to celebrate successes, every staff member must be committed to prioritising the children and young people’s safeguarding above friendships of colleagues and must always remain professionally vigilant.

If you have any concerns, you should raise these with your line managers or DSL/Registered Individual Lucy Squire or the Nominated Individual Abigail Milton at any time.

Review Due Date Reviewed - changes Person Responsible
July 2022 Abigail Milton
July 2024 November 2022 Ray Charran
July 2024 April 2023 Steve Powell
July 2024 October 2023 – Inc Positive Touch Steve Powell
July 2024 October 2023 – Inc Employees and Gifts Steve Powell
July 2024 April 2024- remove RC as safeguarding manager
and add Abigail Milton as Nominated Individual Abigail Milton


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Chivenor Business Park
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