Safeguarding information - Standing Still is Falling Behind!
How you can protect children from abuse
For every child reported to be at risk of harm and abuse, there are many others living in difficult situations who come to the attention of no one.
This guide explains what child abuse is and how to recognise that a child might be being abused or neglected. It tells you what you can do to help if you have concerns about a child or if a child tells you they are being abused. It offers advice on how to support your child if they’re anxious about a friend.
If you’re worried about a child, it’s important not to wait until you’re certain. Trust your judgement and act on your concerns. This guide provides information about who you can talk to and aims to help give you the confidence to make the right call.
We have also worked together with members of the Jewish community to produce a guide for those who are worried about a child.
For more information, please see the downloadable guides at the end of this page
Early help, also known as early intervention, is support given to a family when a problem first emerges. It can be provided at any stage in a child or young person's life.
Statutory guidance in each nation of the UK highlights the importance of providing early intervention, rather than waiting until a child or family’s situation escalates (Department for Education (DfE), 2018; Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, 2017; Scottish Government, 2021; Wales Safeguarding Procedures Project Board, 2020).
Early help services can be delivered to parents, children or whole families, but their main focus is to improve outcomes for children. For example, services may help parents who are living in challenging circumstances provide a safe and loving environment for their child. Or, if a child is displaying risk-taking behaviour, early help practitioners might work with the child and their parents to find out the reasons for the child's behaviour and put strategies in place to help keep them safe.
Providing timely support is vital. Addressing a child or family's needs early on can reduce risk factors and increase protective factors in a child's life (Early Intervention Foundation (EIF), 2021).
Protective factors can reduce risk to a child's wellbeing. They include:
- developing strong social and emotional skills
- having a strong social support network for the family – including support
- for good parental mental health
- income support, benefits and advice
- good community services and facilities
(EIF, 2021; Cleaver, Unell and Aldgate, 2011).
It is more effective to provide early help when problems first arise than to intervene later (DfE, 2018; EIF, 2021).
Early intervention can also prevent further problems from developing – for example, as part of a support plan for a child and their family when a child returns home from care (DfE, 2018).
Types of early help
Early help can take many forms, such as:
- home visiting programmes
- school-based programmes
- mentoring schemes
Early help services should be part of a continuum of support which enables practitioners to respond to the different levels of need children and families may experience (DfE, 2018).
It's important that early help services are holistic, looking at the wider needs of the family and how to provide appropriate support.
Why early help is important
Early help can offer children the support needed to reach their full potential (EIF, 2021). It can improve the quality of a child’s home and family life, enable them to perform better at school and support their mental health (EIF, 2021).
Research suggests that early help can:
- protect children from harm
- reduce the need for a referral to child protection services
- improve children's long-term outcomes
(Haynes et al, 2015).
Early help can also support a child to develop strengths and skills that can prepare them for adult life (EIF, 2021).
Identifying a child or young person who may benefit from early help
Signs that a child or young person may benefit from early help include:
- displaying disruptive or anti-social behaviour
- being bullied or bullying others
- having poor attendance at school
- being involved in, or at risk of, offending
- having poor general health
- having anxiety, depression or other mental health issues
- misusing drugs or alcohol
- having a particularly challenging relationship with parents or appearing to be unusually independent from their parents
- experiencing difficulties at home, such as domestic abuse, parental substance abuse or parental mental health problems
(Department for Education (DfE), 2018).
Some groups of children may be more likely to need early help than their peers. These include children who:
- have been excluded from school
- have special educational needs
- are disabled
- are in care
- are leaving or preparing to leave care
- are young carers
- are young parents (or about to become young parents)
- are experiencing housing issues
It's important to record any concerns you may have about a child, to build up an overview of the child's lived experience so patterns of potentially abusive behaviour can be identified. These records should be shared with your nominated child protection lead who will consider all the available information and decide whether a referral to the local child protection services is necessary.
How to make a referral for early help
If you think a child, young person or a family might benefit from early help services, you should:
- keep a written record of your concerns
- inform your nominated child protection lead.
Keeping a written record
If you think that a child, young person or a family might benefit from early intervention services write down the reasons why you think this type of support could be helpful. It's important to keep a written record of any concerns you have about a child.
Sharing your concerns
You should share your concerns with your nominated child protection lead. They will look at all the available evidence and decide what to do.
If the nominated child protection lead thinks a child may be at risk of abuse or neglect, they will follow your organisation's child protection procedures immediately.
If they think the child and their family may benefit from co-ordinated support from more than one agency, they can request an early help assessment.
An early help assessment is where a lead practitioner (such as a GP, family support worker, school nurse, teacher, health visitor, and/or special educational needs co-ordinator) makes an assessment of the child's needs. It can only happen with the consent of the child (if they are able to give consent) and their parent or carer.
If the nominated child protection lead thinks the family will benefit from more support from your organisation, they will arrange it. They may ask for your help in arranging this.
Working with the child and their family
Your nominated child protection lead will make arrangements to discuss things with the child and their family. They may ask you to be involved.
When talking to families that may benefit from early help, it's important to:
- be patient and calm. Listen carefully to the child and parent or carer and let them describe the challenges they are facing. Don't try to investigate or quiz the child or parent or carer, but make sure you understand what they're saying
- find out what the child and their family would like to happen. Ask what they would like to improve about the situation
- use non-judgmental language
- reassure the child/family that they can get support to move forward with their life
- agree on next steps with the child/young person and family.
The nominated child protection lead must guide all conversations with the child and the child's family.
Having a collaborative approach is key to making sure children and families receive the right help at the right time. Make sure you work proactively with other organisations to identify children and families in need of support and help them access the services they need.
Statutory guidance across the UK highlights the responsibility of those in the education, community and care sectors to safeguard children from all forms of abuse and neglect. This includes providing help as soon as it is needed.
Each nation of the UK has safeguarding and child protection guidance that sets out how organisations should identify and support children and families who would benefit from early help.
Additional references and resources: click here
Please see the Latest Tusk newsletter with upcoming safeguarding children training sessions, offered free of charge by the London Safeguarding Children Partnership with the support of the Local London Safeguarding Children Partnerships, with links to register for the sessions.
A new app which offers vital safeguarding information for teachers, school staff and other safeguarding professionals has been launched by the City of London Corporation.
The City of London Safer Schools App provides support on topics including online bullying, mental health, sexting, media literacy, gaming and sexual exploitation online.
It costs nothing to download and provides access to advice, guidance and CPD accredited training, with a specific focus on making children and young people safer in the online world.
You can find out more information about the Safer School's App the FIS Directory
What is the City Corporation doing about this:
The City Corporation's Modern Slavery Statement brings together the roles, remits, commitments and all work undertaken to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking by the City of London Police, Department for Children and Community Services, Community Safety, Port Health & Public Protection, HR, City Procurement, the Barbican, City Bridge Trust and Heart of the City.
This year our public engagement on modern slavery and human rights has included:
- delivering training to the London Heads of Procurement on Modern Slavery;
- collaborating with the Local Government Association (LGA) on their Modern Slavery and sustainable procurement guidance;
- participating in a focus group discussion with the UK Home Office and LGA on how implementation and effectiveness of the Modern Slavery Act could be improved;
- collaborating with the Business, Human Rights and Environment (BHRE) Group on international uptake of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights;
- supporting the UK Bill that would see the Modern Slavery Act expanded to include requirements for public authorities.
The City Corporation is committed to delivering excellent customer service. We recognise the different needs of our customers and actively work to minimise potential issues of exclusion and discrimination. We aspire to be a leader in equality and inclusion, serving a wide range of communities including our staff, residents, businesses and the workforce of the Square Mile.
The City Corporation also aims to provide an inclusive, respectful and discrimination-free work environment for staff. We will use best practice in employment in accordance with legislation to ensure that employees feel respected and able to give their best. As far as possible, we would like our workforce to be broadly representative of all sections of society.
email@example.com if you would like support for staff, children, and families who use your Setting.