Safeguarding and welfare within the Early years foundation stage
Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is everyone’s responsibility. Everyone who comes in to contact with children has a role to play. You are in a position to identify children who may need early help, who are at risk of harm or have been harmed. Children who need help and protection deserve high quality and effective support as soon as a need is identified.
I am a professional with a concern about a child
If it is an emergency and you think that a child may be in immediate danger, please contact the emergency services directly by calling 999.
If you believe your concerns about a child requires statutory intervention, you should follow the referral process on the Northamptonshire Children’s Trust website. This page provides guidance on how to report a concern about a child.
Early Help advice for professionals
If your concern does not meet the threshold for statutory intervention, you should consider if the child and their family could benefit from early help. Early help means providing support as soon as a problem emerges, at any point in a child’s life. Providing early help is more effective in promoting the welfare of children than reacting later. The Early Help Assessment is a simple way to help identify needs of children and families and make a plan to meet those needs.
I have a concern about an adult working with children and young people
You should report all cases in which it is alleged that any person who works with children has:
- behaved in a way that has harmed, or may have harmed, a child
- possibly committed a criminal offence against children, 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, for example if their conduct falls within any of these categories of abuse: physical, emotional, sexual, neglect
Allegations made against workers who are paid, unpaid, volunteer, agency, casual and self-employed as well as foster carers, and adoptive parents of children on Placement Orders should all be reported to the Designated Officer. This should be done within 24 hours of the incident.
Links to Local Safeguarding Partners (LSP)
Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children Partnership (NSCP) has local procedures, safeguarding toolkits, training and documents for you to access keep your knowledge up to date.
Northamptonshire Children’s Trust are a not-for-profit company established in November 2020 to deliver the best possible opportunities for the children in Northamptonshire. They hold the responsibility to deliver children’s social care and targeted early help services on behalf of North Northamptonshire Council and West Northamptonshire Council. Northamptonshire Children’s Trust provides guidance on how to report a concern about a child or adult.
Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage safeguarding responsibilities
As an early years provider, you must take all necessary steps to keep children healthy, safe and secure.
Your key safeguarding responsibilities as a childcare provider are:
- safeguarding children
- ensuring the suitability of adults who have contact with children
- promoting good health
- managing behaviour
- maintaining records, policies and procedures
Find out more about the Early years foundation stage (Gov.uk) (EYFS) safeguarding and welfare requirements.
Your legal duties
The EYFS is mandatory for all early years providers under the Childcare Act 2006. It is your responsibility to meet the requirements in full. The following government statutory guidance is available:
- What to do if you’re worried a child is being abused (Gov.uk) offers guidance to help you identify the signs of child abuse and neglect and understand what action to take
- Information sharing: advice for practitioners providing safeguarding services (Gov.uk) is to help you decide when and how to share personal information legally and professionally
- Working together to safeguard children (Gov.uk) provides a guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children which you must have regard to.
You must be aware of your responsibilities under the Data Protection Legislation and where relevant the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
This includes the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) and General Data Protection Regulation 2018. The DPA gives parents and carers the right to access information about their child that you hold. It is essential that you have an understanding of how data protection laws operate. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the UK's independent body set up to uphold information rights. Further guidance can be found on the Information Commissioner’s Office website.
We have produced a Safeguarding and welfare audit that will help you to check and feel confident you are fully meeting each of the requirements in Section 3 of the EYFS. To request a copy, please email [email protected].
You must notify Ofsted of any serious accident, illness or injury to, or death of, any child whilst in your care, and of the action you have taken. You can refer to the guidance Childcare: reporting children’s accidents and injuries (Gov.uk) to find out what type of accident, injury or illness you must notify Ofsted of. Failure to comply with this requirement means you will be committing an offence.
You must Report a serious childcare incident (Gov.uk) by submitting an online report within 14 days.
You must also notify follow local safeguarding partners of any serious accident or injury to, or the death of, any child while in their care, and must act on any advice from those agencies.
You must put in place a written procedure for dealing with concerns and complaints and must keep a written record of any complaints and their outcome. You must investigate each complaint and notify the complainant of the outcome within 28 days. Record of complaints must be made available to Ofsted upon request.
You must make available to parents and or carers details of how to contact Ofsted. You can download Ofsted's role in regulating childcare: poster for parents (Gov.uk) to display in your provision.
The online world brings many positives and possibilities, but it’s also full of risks – and it’s constantly changing. You play an essential role in helping young children learn the foundations of safe online behaviour. Even if children don’t have access to technology within your setting, they may be using it at home, with their friends or in other public spaces. Role modelling safe use of the internet should become part of everyday practice.
Online safety is also highlighted within the Early Years Foundation Stage and the Early Years Inspection Handbook for Ofsted-registered provision (Gov.uk).
Useful websites to support you to keep children safe online
To support early years settings, the UKCIS Education Working Group has developed two documents to help early years settings managers and staff consider their practice and to take steps to safeguard both children and adults online.
- Safeguarding children and protecting professionals in early years settings: online safety considerations - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Safeguarding Children and Protecting Professionals in Early Years Settings: Online Safety Considerations for Managers will help managers of early years settings (including wrap around care for the early years age group) ensure that their online safeguarding practice is in line with statutory requirements and suggested best practice. It explores the current statutory guidance in the form of a checklist with key questions to help early years managers reflect and evidence their existing practice. The guidance highlights a range of resources which can be used to support early years settings to develop a whole setting approach towards online safety in line with national guidance.
Safeguarding Children and Protecting Professionals in Early Years Settings: Online Safety Guidance for Practitioners is a resource for staff working in early years settings to help them understand their role in promoting the online safety and wellbeing of children in their care, as well as enabling them to consider their own professional practice. The guidance highlights resources which can be used by practitioners to safeguard children, parents and themselves as professionals online. The document can be read by staff independently as part of developing their own safeguarding knowledge and understanding. It could also be used by managers as part of staff induction or to stimulate a discussion with staff regarding their settings online safety policy and procedures.
Thinkuknow is the education programme from the National Crime Agency - Child Exploitation and Online Protection, a UK organisation for advice about staying safe online when using a phone, tablet or computer.
The National Cyber Security Centre's advice for Early Years practitioners: using cyber security to protect your settings explains how you can protect sensitive information about your setting and the children in your care from accidental damage and online criminals.
Online safety resources are available from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children to help you keep every child safe online.
You must have regard to the government’s statutory Prevent duty guidance (Gov.uk). The 2015 Counter Terrorism and Security Act places a duty on early years providers “to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”.
The Action Counters Terrorism Act Early website is a useful source of information around radicalisation concerns.
It is important that you:
- make sure that you have training that gives you the knowledge and confidence to identify children at risk of being drawn into terrorism
- challenge extremist ideas
- build children’s resilience to extremist influences
- know what to do if you have concerns about a child
If you have a concern where you think a child is at risk of extremism
The risk of vulnerable people being drawn into terrorism is still very much present within our society. Intervention plays a key part in reducing that risk at an early stage. You can make a referral into Prevent regarding someone you are worried about, please visit the Northants Police advice webpage on Prevent.
Or report a concern via the government helpline:
Opening times: Monday to Friday from 11am to 3pm (excluding bank holidays)
All professionals working with children play an essential role in identifying privately fostered children. Although most children in private fostering situations are likely to be safe, in some private fostering arrangements there are clear safeguarding issues and children and young people effectively have no one who is concerned for their safety or welfare.
What is a private fostering arrangement?
A private foster carer is someone other than a parent or a close relative who cares for a child for a period of 28 days or more, in agreement with the child's parent. It applies only to children under 16 years, or under 18 if they are disabled. A private fostering arrangement is not a when a child is Looked After by the Local Authority or placed in any residential home, hospital or school.
Who may be privately fostered?
This indicates a sample scale and variety of situations and agencies these arrangements can cover but is not exhaustive:
- children whose parents are unable to care for them, for example if they have chronic ill health or are in prison
- children sent to this country, for education or health care, by parents who live overseas
- a child living with a friend’s family because they don’t get on with their own family
- children living with a friend’s family because of their parents’ study or work
- children staying with another family because their parents have separated or divorced
- unaccompanied asylum seeking minors who are living with friends, relatives or strangers
What to do if you are aware of a private fostering arrangement
If you think you know a child who is being privately fostered, please contact The Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) who will deal with enquiries and notifications about private fostering. This will help protect the child against abuse or neglect and provide some reassurance that the child is being looked after properly. You should ensure this is a procedure within your Safeguarding policy that is followed.
Visit the Northamptonshire Children Safeguarding Partnership to find out more information on private fostering arrangements and how to report it.
Safe recruitment is central to the safeguarding of children and young people. All organisations which employ staff or volunteers to work with children and young people have a duty to safeguard and promote their welfare. This includes ensuring that you adopt safe recruitment and selection procedures which prevent unsuitable persons from gaining access to children. All those involved in recruitment and selection of staff, including managers, leaders and HR professionals, should access safer recruitment and selection training.
We have developed a handy checklist to help you implement robust recruitment practices so that you can select and recruit staff in a safe way. Please email us [email protected] for a copy.
There is free Safer Recruitment training available on the Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children Partnership website. Simply register online to access the E-learning course.
NSPCC have more information to help you set up and review your organisation’s safe recruitment processes at Safer recruitment.
Last updated 25 August 2023