You might want to add an addendum to your Safeguarding Policy to include the following updated information relating to changes that might have happened with coronavirus, lockdown, staff procedures, parent engagement, risk assessment etc –
**Latest DfE guidance (23.7.2020) states that a DSL (designated safeguarding lead) must be available to staff and parents, but they do not need to be on site ‘if this is not practical’. For example, they might be working from home or based at another setting. You should also note deputy DSL arrangements (a deputy trained to support staff, children and families in the DSL’s absence) if relevant. You might also want to consider the role/s of the DSL and whether these will change –
**State how you will identify and act on safeguarding concerns related to individual children on their return to the setting. This might include, for example, noting children’s wellbeing through the weeks and speaking to parents to update yourself about their lived experience at home during lockdown. You might find this free leaflet useful for your professional development and to share with staff and parents - https://d8cqmbj55c1i2.cloudfront.net/download/original/0153/English_safeguarding_leaflet_-_PRINT_015361_001.pdf.
**NSPCC note that children may be experiencing new challenges during the pandemic, for example, ‘income loss, mental health problems, family conflict and difficulty getting food’ and suggest you put together a list of support services for signposting parents. If you need help having difficult safeguarding conversations with parents, my colleague Rachel Buckler from Health and Safety Solutions has a useful free guidance leaflet. Please email to request your copy – firstname.lastname@example.org.
**There is a requirement in safeguarding legislation to respond appropriately to children’s non-attendance. For example, a child might not be brought because parents are ill – or because they have bruises sustained during domestic violence altercations at home. Your local authority reporting procedures might have changed as a result of coronavirus – you should check locally and include the contact details in your Safeguarding Policy addendum.
**You might find the recently updated National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) guidance, written for schools and colleges, ‘When to call the police’ useful for reference – https://www.npcc.police.uk/documents/Children%20and%20Young%20people/When%20to%20call%20the%20police%20guidance%20for%20schools%20and%20colleges.pdf.
**It will be important to update emergency contact details with parents on their return, especially if current contacts are shielding or vulnerable and to reflect any deaths due to coronavirus etc. You might want to reflect this in your Safeguarding Policy.
**Childminders / staff should consider children’s mental health and wellbeing and should support their transition back to the setting, with a focus on their personal, social and emotional development, physical development and communication and language. The NSPCC has published a useful guidance document ‘Coronavirus and keeping children safe from abuse’ –
**Note any updated information you might have received from your local safeguarding partners or the local authority - this will vary depending on communications from your local area. It might cover, for example, who to inform if you have attendance concerns, how to review and update Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans and risk assessments linked to EHC plans; also note any revised contact details.
**If you are involved in multi-agency meetings to support a child, you should note the DfE guidance about other professionals coming into the setting and ensure your risk assessment is updated. You will find more information about meetings and visits in section 7.5 of the latest DfE guidance –
**Reflect on how you will respond to a staff member if there are concerns about their, for example, wellbeing or mental health and the risk assessment you will do if they pose a risk to the children. This might also cover concerns about staff who are, for example, failing to social distance in their private lives and whether this may pose a risk to their working life. You might want to update your Staff Behaviour Policy to reflect any changes to your expectations relating to coronavirus, your risk assessment, keeping safe in personal lives etc.
**When welcoming staff back to the setting, you should do a supervision and ask them to complete an updated staff declaration form. Note that the statutory guidance ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ (to be used from 09.2020) has been updated to include reference to reporting ‘where a person’s behaviour outside school may suggest ‘transferable risk’.’ You will need to consider how you will reflect this new wording in your Staff Behaviour Policy. You will find free documentation relating to return to work supervisions and staff declarations in the staff bundle here - https://www.childcare.co.uk/childminders/coronavirus-toolkit.
**Think about information sharing with parents, to keep them up-to-date and informed. Online safety is highlighted in the guidance as an area of focus in the DfE guidance. This further information is signposted for parents as well as providers –
**Staff training should be provided to ensure all staff members are up-to-date with how to support children who are experiencing, for example, bereavement, domestic abuse or substance abuse. There is further guidance on the risks to children from domestic abuse from the NSPCC here –
https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/child-abuse-and-neglect/domestic-abuse. Your Local Authority may be able to help or signpost appropriate courses. This free webinar was signposted by Cheshire East and will help you to keep your safeguarding CPD up-to-date –
**If you are recruiting new staff, you may need to carry out virtual interviews and show-rounds. You will find guidance on how to put safeguarding at the centre of your revised Coronavirus Recruitment Procedures from NSPCC here –
**Consider how you will respond to a family who are failing to follow Government social distancing rules. You will need to assess the risk this might pose to yourself and other families who attend your setting. While some providers have policies, the DfE advice is to risk assess - you might find it useful to link your Safeguarding Policy to your Coronavirus Risk Assessment, which should be regularly updated based on new DfE guidance and reactions to situations in the setting as they occur.
**Keep your Coronavirus Risk Assessment updated – while there is no requirement in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) for written risk assessments, you might find it useful to put your thoughts on paper. You will find a free risk assessment from Childcare.co.uk which you can adapt for your setting here – https://www.childcare.co.uk/covid19/risk-assessment.
**Clarify with your local authority how you should report safeguarding concerns relating to staff, children and / or families as reporting procedures may have changed due to staffing issues or shorter working patterns for staff. You might want to update your reporting procedures and share them with parents.
Updated statutory guidance
The statutory guidance ‘Keeping children safe in education’ has been updated to be used from September 2020. The EYFS states we must have regard to this document and there are some aspects that are relevant to early years. Childminders, group providers and staff should read Section 1 of the document for their professional development. In relation to the early years, the update includes a new definition of safeguarding, focus on mental health and changes to the role of the Designated Safeguarding Lead. You can find the updated document here –
All staff should be made aware of the new Safeguarding Policy Addendum and be kept up to date as it is revised. To comply with the Childcare Register, a copy of the Safeguarding Policy, including any addenda, should be given to parents.
If you have any safeguarding questions or concerns, please contact me for more guidance.