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2.2 Agency Roles and Responsibilities

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter should be read in conjunction with Liverpool Safeguarding and Partnership and Committees. The chapter seeks to add a further narrative to the now well established multi-agency safeguarding approach, but now within the context of the Working Together to Safeguard Children 'Safeguarding partnerships'.

See: Liverpool Multi-Agency Safeguarding Responsibilities (Flowchart)

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

Working Together to Safeguard Children

Keeping Children Safe in Education

Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills settings - Guidance for Ofsted inspectors to use when inspecting safeguarding under the education inspection framework

GMC Guidance for Doctors 'Protecting children and young people - the responsibilities of all doctors' (GMC 2018).

AMENDMENT

Section 3,Common Features was updated in August 2021 as a result of a revision to the statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children. Policies for responding to allegations against a person who works with children must now cover situations where an individual has behaved or may have behaved in a way that indicates they may not be suitable to work with children. This is to capture concerns around transferable risk; for example where a person who works with children is involved in a domestic abuse incident at home and this may have implications for their suitability to work with child.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Statutory Duties
  3. Common Features
  4. Specific Roles and Responsibilities of Agencies
  5. Specific Roles and Responsibilities of Schools, FE Colleges, Alternative Education Providers and Education Teams (to be read in conjunction with detailed agency procedures)
  6. Early Years (Day Care Providers and Child Minders)


1. Introduction

An awareness and appreciation of the role of others is essential for effective collaboration between organisations and their practitioners.

This chapter outlines the main responsibilities in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children of all statutory organisations, voluntary agencies and professionals who work with children.

It should be read in conjunction with the details set out in Chapter 2, Organisational Responsibilities of Working Together to Safeguard Children.


2. Statutory Duties

All organisations that work with children share a commitment to safeguard and promote their welfare. For many organisations, this is underpinned by statutory duties.

Children's Services Authorities have a number of specific duties to organise and plan services for children.

As well as the local authority, NHS bodies organisations, Police, British Transport Police, the National Probation Service and Prison Services, Youth Offending Teams and Secure Training Centres all have duties under Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 to ensure that their functions are discharged with regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

Guidance for these organisations about their duty under Section 11 is contained in Chapter 3: Multi-agency safeguarding arrangements, Working Together to Safeguard Children “.

Local authorities also have duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in relation to its functions under section 175 of the Education Act 2002 (as amended by the Children and Social Work Act 2017).

As well as the education service provided by the local authority, schools (both maintained and independent) and Further Education institutions, including 6th form colleges, have duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of their pupils who are under 18. Guidance about these education duties is contained in “Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education”.

In addition, boarding schools, residential special schools and FE Institutions that provide accommodation for pupils under 18 must have regard to the relevant National Minimum Standards for their establishment, which can be found at the Department for Education website.

CAFCASS also has a duty under Section 12(1) of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 to safeguard and promote the welfare of children involved in family proceedings in which their welfare is, or may be, in question.


3. Common Features

Under Section 11 of the Children Act 2004, (as amended by the Children and Social Work Act 2017) local authorities, NHS organisations, and police, together with their identified partners, e.g. schools, colleges and other educational providers, British Transport Police, the National Probation Service, Prisons and Young Offender Institutions, Secure Training Centres and Youth Offending Teams/Services should have in place arrangements that reflect the importance of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, including:

  • A clear line of accountability for the commissioning and/or provision of services designed to safeguard and promote the welfare of children;
  • A senior Safeguarding Children Partnership lead member to take leadership responsibility for the organisation's safeguarding arrangements;
  • A culture of listening to children and taking account of their wishes and feelings, both in individual decisions and the development of services;
  • Arrangements which set out clearly the processes for sharing information, with other professionals and with the Local Safeguarding Children Partnership (LSCP);
  • A designated professional lead (or, for health provider organisations, named professionals) for safeguarding. Their role is to support other professionals in their agencies to recognise the needs of children, including rescue from possible abuse or neglect. Designated professional roles should always be explicitly defined in job descriptions. Professionals should be given sufficient time, funding, supervision and support to fulfil their child welfare and safeguarding responsibilities effectively;
  • Safe recruitment practices for individuals whom the organisation will permit to work regularly with children, including policies on when to obtain a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check;
  • Appropriate supervision and support for staff, including undertaking safeguarding training:
    • Employers are responsible for ensuring that their staff are competent to carry out their responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and creating an environment where staff feel able to raise concerns and feel supported in their safeguarding role;
    • Staff should be given a mandatory induction, which includes familiarisation with child protection responsibilities and procedures to be followed if anyone has any concerns about a child's safety or welfare; and
    • All professionals should have regular reviews of their own practice to ensure they improve over time.
  • Clear policies in line with those from the LSCP for dealing with allegations against people who work with children. An allegation may relate to a person who works with children who has:
    • Behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child;
    • Possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child;
    • Behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates they may pose a risk of harm to children; or
    • Behaved or may have behaved in a way that indicates they may not be suitable to work with children.

In addition:

  • County level and unitary local authorities should have a Designated Officer (still often referenced as LADO) to be involved in the management and oversight of individual cases. The LADO should provide advice and guidance to employers and voluntary organisations, liaising with the police and other agencies and monitoring the progress of cases to ensure that they are dealt with as quickly as possible, consistent with a thorough and fair process;
  • Any allegation should be reported immediately to a senior manager within the organisation. The LADO should also be informed within one working day of all allegations that come to an employer's attention or that are made directly to the police; and
  • If an organisation removes an individual (paid worker or unpaid volunteer) from work such as looking after children (or would have, had the person not left first) because the person poses a risk of harm to children, the organisation must make a referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service. It is an offence to fail to make a referral without good reason.


4. Specific Roles and Responsibilities of Agencies

Chapter 2 of Working Together to Safeguard Children also sets out the specific roles and responsibilities of the agencies and organisations: see Chapter 2: Organisational responsibilities - Working Together to Safeguard Children.


5. Specific Roles and Responsibilities of Schools, FE Colleges, Alternative Education Providers and Education Teams (to be read in conjunction with detailed agency procedures)

Everyone in the education service shares an objective to help keep children and young people safe by contributing to:

  • Providing a safe environment for children and young people to learn in education setting; and
  • Identifying children and young people who are suffering or likely to suffer significant harm, and taking appropriate action with the aim of making sure they are kept safe both at home and in the education setting.

Schools do not constitute an investigation or intervention agency, but through their day-to-day contact with children and families, education staff have a crucial role to play in noticing indicators of possible abuse or neglect and in referring concerns to Children's Social Care via Careline.

All staff in the Education Service and training providers (including those in foundation and independent schools, academies and city technology colleges, providers of education otherwise, sixth form and further education colleges and youth service) and also staff in early years and pre-school provision (see Section 6, Early Years (Day Care Providers and Child Minders)) should be aware of the need to alert Children's Social Care or the police, when they believe a child has been abused or is at risk of abuse - see the Referral, Investigation and Assessment Procedure.

Guidance for School Staff

The key element essential to ensuring that proper procedures are followed in each educational establishment is that the Head Teacher, or another senior member of staff, should be designated as having responsibility for liaising with Children's Social Care and other relevant agencies, in cases of child abuse. In Liverpool this person is known as the Designated Child Protection Co-ordinator.

The Designated Child Protection Co-ordinator should have attended a local authority training course on Safeguarding and Child Protection. The Designated Child Co-ordinator should ensure that the establishment has up-to-date copies of the School's Safeguarding Guidelines readily available for staff, and that information regarding the procedures laid down in the guidelines is disseminated to all members of staff.

Staff in schools are often the best placed to recognise signs, which may indicate abuse. Overt signs of abuse must be acted upon at once. They include:

  • A child saying s/he has been abused;
  • A child with non-accidental injuries, and/or injuries to the genital area;
  • A third party reporting that a child is being abused;
  • A child who is excessively sexualised;
  • A child who attempts suicide;
  • A child who sexually abuses another person.

If a child or young person tells a member of staff that s/he is being abused, the staff member should:

  • Allow the child or young person to speak without interruption, accepting what is said;
  • Advise the child or young person that s/he will be offered support, but that the information must be referred to the Child Protection Co-ordinator or Head Teacher;
  • Immediately tell the designated Child Protection Co-ordinator or Head Teacher;
  • Record the facts as known, including the account given by the young person and give a copy to the designated Child Protection Co-ordinator or Head Teacher.

If a member of school staff or any education establishment or service suspects that a child/young person is being abused s/he should:

  • Immediately tell the Designated Child Protection Co-ordinator or Head Teacher;
  • Record the known facts and give them to the above person.

The Designated Child Protection Co-ordinator, Head Teacher or other senior member of staff must keep a record of all information which could be used as evidence, and should ensure that Children's Social Care is informed immediately, and the referral made (via Care Line) is confirmed in writing - see Referral, Investigation and Assessment Procedure.

The child should not be interviewed by education staff without first liaising with Children's Social Care.

In the event of serious injury to the child, the Head Teacher should make arrangements for the child to be accompanied to the Accident and Emergency Department of the nearest Children's Hospital. The parents of the child will normally be informed by Children's Social Care.

If the Designated Child Protection Co-ordinator or Head Teacher experiences any difficulty in following this advice, they should contact the Safeguarding Unit, or Children's Social Care via the allocated social worker, or Care Line (see the Referral, Investigation and Assessment Procedure).

When staff suspect abuse, and in the absence of overt signs, the staff member should share any concerns about a child with the Head Teacher and/or Designated Child Protection Co-ordinator, who should consider making a referral to Children's Social Care via Care Line in accordance with the Referral, Investigation and Assessment Procedure.

Under normal circumstances, the Designated Child Protection Co-ordinator or Head Teacher should seek the consent of the parent(s) or carer(s) or the child before making referral to social services. If there is any concern that such discussion with the parent(s) or carer(s) might place the child at an increased likelihood of suffering Significant Harm, and certainly in circumstances where sexual abuse is suspected, the Designated Child Protection Co-ordinator or Head Teacher should seek the advice of Children's Social Care before entering into such discussion with the child's parent(s) or carer(s).

Guidance for other Education employees

If an Attendance and Welfare Officer suspects that a child/young person is being abused s/he should refer the concern to Children's Social Care via Care Line without delay by telephone and confirm the referral in writing within 24 hours. The Head Teacher of the child's school should also be informed.

If an Educational Psychologist suspects that a child/young person is being abused he should refer the concern to the Principal Educational Psychologist and to Children's Social Care via Care Line without delay, confirming the referral in writing within 24 hours. The Head Teacher of the child's school should also be informed.

If alternative education providers, or staff in further education establishments, suspect that a young person is being abused, referral to Children's Social Care via Care Line should be made without delay and confirmed in writing within 24 hours.

If staff in the Youth and Community Service suspect that a young person is being abused, referral to Children's Social Care via Care Line should be made without delay and confirmed in writing within 24 hours.

Allegations and concerns regarding the professional conduct of staff

If a member of staff receives an allegation about an adult, including themselves, the member of staff should:

  • Immediately tell the Designated Child Protection Co-ordinator or Head Teacher;
  • Record the facts as known and give a copy to the Designated Child Protection Co-ordinator or Head Teacher;
  • In the case of an allegation against the Head Teacher all activities should be undertaken by the Chair of Governors in consultation with the LEA head officer.

In the event that a member of staff suspects that a pupil is being abused by another member of staff in school or elsewhere, a report should be made in strict confidence to the Head Teacher. The Head Teacher should immediately inform the Local Authority Designated Officer.

It is essential that in all cases where an allegation is made against any member of staff including the Head Teacher, the Local Authority Designated Officer must be informed immediately.


6. Early Years (Day Care Providers and Child Minders)

Early years providers have a duty under Section 40 of the Childcare Act 2006 to comply with the welfare requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework (EYFS), Section 3, The safeguarding and welfare requirements. This includes:

A practitioner must be designated to take lead responsibility for safeguarding children in every setting. Childminders must take the lead responsibility themselves. The lead practitioner is responsible for liaison with local statutory children's services agencies, and with the LSCP. They must provide support, advice and guidance to any other staff on an ongoing basis, and on any specific safeguarding issue as required. The lead practitioner must attend a child protection training course that enables them to identify, understand and respond.

Day Nursery staff that suspect that a child is suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm should discuss their concern immediately with the Designated Child Protection Co-ordinator, manager or their designated child protection deputy. If unable to contact the appropriate senior manager, the Children's Social Care via Careline staff member should follow the setting procedures for making a referral to. Ofsted should be notified. See GOV.UK Childcare: reporting children's accidents and injuries - Find out whether you need to tell Ofsted about an accident, injury or illness a child suffers while in your care.

Child Minders who suspect that a child is suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm should follow their procedure for making a referral to Children's Social Care via Careline. Any such concern should be recorded in the child's file. Ofsted should be notified. See GOV.UK Childcare: reporting children's accidents and injuries - Find out whether you need to tell Ofsted about an accident, injury or illness a child suffers while in your care.

If the child has an allocated social worker, referral should be made to the social worker, team manager or social work resource manager with responsibility for the child.

Where the child does not have an allocated social worker, referrals should be made to Children's Social Care via Careline - see Referral, Investigation and Assessment Procedure.

Any referral of such concern, whether the child has an allocated social worker or not should be confirmed in writing to Children's Social Care within 24 hours.

Generally the parents or carers of a child should be informed of any concern and any intention to refer to Children's Social Care. In a case of suspected Significant Harm, this should only be done where such discussion will not itself place the child at an increased likelihood of suffering Significant Harm. Where there is concern that a criminal offence may have been committed, any decision about informing the parents should only be made after proper consultation between the Police and Children's Social Care. See also Information Sharing Procedure.

Any investigation or medical examination necessary will be managed by the investigating social worker and team manager and/or the police - in accordance with the Single Assessments (including Section 47 Enquiries) Procedure.

If the child requires urgent medical attention this should be arranged immediately. Referrals as described in the above paragraphs should still be made as soon as possible and medical personnel involved must be informed of the concerns. Contact should be made with the social work department in the hospital in advance, so that they may prepare medical staff to expect the child.

Generally the parents or carers of a child should be informed of any intention to seek emergency medical attention and be asked to accompany the child and provide medical consent. However, there may be times when this is impossible because of the condition of the child and the urgency of the situation. Again this should only be done where such discussion will not itself place the child is suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm.

If a parent refuses to allow the child to be taken to hospital a senior colleague, or, in the case of a Child Minder, Children's Social Care (via Careline) and Ofsted should be informed immediately. See GOV.UK Childcare: reporting children's accidents and injuries - Find out whether you need to tell Ofsted about an accident, injury or illness a child suffers while in your care.

If a parent cannot be contacted immediately, every effort should be made to ensure that they know where the child is.

Where a child's attendance at day care is part of the Child Protection Plan or Child in Need Plan and the child fails to attend day care, the social worker or team manager should be informed as soon as possible and the information confirmed in writing.

On becoming aware of the child's non-attendance, the social worker should visit the family to ensure the day care arrangements for the child/ren are adequate. This may include assessing other family members or any person assigned to care for the child/ren.

Any such arrangements should be included in the Single Assessment document.

Day Care providers responsible for a child who is the subject of a Child Protection Plan should keep a daily record of the child's condition. Such a child's record or file should be discreetly but clearly marked, to indicate that the child has a Child Protection Plan.

Day Care Providers caring for a child, who is Looked After by the local authority, should be alert to the condition of the child after contact with parents or carers, and be alert to physical and behavioural indications of harm or distress. Any such signs should be reported to the social worker or team manager, verbally and in writing, and should be recorded in the child's file.

If in doubt with any of the above guidance day care providers can always seek advice from the Safeguarding Unit.

End