Therapy Centre NI, Dungannon
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Safeguarding Children Policy

Introduction

THERAPY CENTRE NI (the Organisation) is a for-profit organisation run for the following purpose:

  • Occupational Therapy and Clinical Psychology Services for children, adolescents, their families and carers.

The Organisation has adopted this safeguarding children policy and expects every adult working or helping at this private practice to support it and comply with it. Consequently this policy shall apply to all staff, Director’s, volunteers, students or anyone working on behalf of this practice.

Purpose of the Policy

This policy is intended to protect children who receive any service from us, including those who are the children of adults who may receive services from us. Under this policy, the term children shall mean any person who is under eighteen years of age.

The Organisation believes that no child or young person should experience abuse or harm and is committed to the protection of children and young people. This policy is intended to provide guidance and overarching principles to those who represent us as volunteers or staff, to guide our approach to child protection and safeguarding.

The Risks to Children

Children can be vulnerable to different forms of abuse and harm. It is important to recognise that abuse and harm of children can cover a wide range of circumstances and behaviours. For example, children can be at risk of:

  • physical or emotional abuse
  • neglect
  • sexual abuse
  • female genital mutilation (FGM)
  • grooming and exploitation
  • trafficking and modern slavery
  • exposure to or infliction of domestic abuse
  • bullying or cyber bullying
  • exposure to other inappropriate content or behaviour, such as violence or criminal behaviour
  • self-harm
  • physical harm when engaging with activities without adequate supervision

The causal factors of any such harm and/or abuse can also be wide-ranging. For example, children can be placed at risk by family members or by members of the community.

Safeguarding Principles

Safeguarding children from harm and abuse is an essential responsibility for our Organisation. We are committed to ensuring that any child who comes into contact with our services is properly safeguarded. Every person under this policy must ensure that they play an active role in ensuring that children are properly safeguarded.

Every person under this policy holds responsibility for:

  • remaining alert and aware of possible safeguarding risks to children
  • guarding children against harmful environments with appropriate actions (for example, adequate supervision or ensuring safe environments)
  • taking positive steps to maintain the safety and wellbeing of children engaging with us as an Organisation
  • reporting concerns expeditiously and appropriately, in line with child protection procedures
  • understanding the duty to report specific concerns (and understanding how this interplays with confidentiality)
  • challenging any inappropriate or harmful behaviour of any other adult and reporting this accordingly
  • acting appropriately in the presence of children
  • not taking any inappropriate risks
  • not smoking, drinking or taking any form of illicit substances in the presence of children

Safeguarding Officer

Any question, report or concern in relation to the safeguarding of children should be shared with our Safeguarding Officer:

Name: Olivia McGrath
Email: info@therapycentreni.com

Confidentiality and Data Protection

All personal information we may process relating to children, shall be processed and stored in accordance with our data protection Privacy Policy.

Responding to a Safeguarding Concern

Where a child is at immediate risk of serious harm, any adult present should call 999. Thereafter, the Safeguarding Officer should be contacted as soon as is reasonably practicable.

Where there is a safeguarding concern but no immediate risk of serious harm, the adult who has heard or witnessed this concern should consult with the Safeguarding Officer as soon as practicable and by no later than the end of that same day.

Where any child makes a disclosure relating to harm or abuse to an adult, it is important for that adult to:

  • listen calmly and carefully, showing that their their views are taken seriously
  • provide an appropriate and honest level of reassurance
  • avoid interrogating children and asking probing, intrusive and/or leading questions
  • avoid making false promises regarding secrets and confidentiality with the child (because any concern of abuse/harm must be shared with the Safeguarding Officer and any subsequent safeguarding referral)
  • make a confidential written record of the discussion either during the discussion or immediately afterwards. The record should include the key details of the disclosure together with any relevant times, dates, places and people concerned. Audio and video recordings of children making disclosures should be avoided
  • refer all relevant information to the Safeguarding Officer as soon as practicable afterwards, and by no later than the end of the day

Upon receipt of any safeguarding concern, the Safeguarding Officer shall consult with any other relevant persons and will make any appropriate referrals to the relevant authorities, such as the applicable Local Authority Children's Services department.

Reporting Concerns About Other Adults

Where any person has a concern regarding the conduct of an adult connected to the Organisation, which poses or may pose a safeguarding risk to children such as:

  • harming a child either physically or emotionally
  • exposing a child to behaviour which may cause physical or emotional harm
  • engaging in criminal activity concerning a child

this must be raised in the first instance with the Safeguarding Officer (or where this is not appropriate, a different senior member of the organisation) so that the next appropriate steps may be agreed and actioned. We recognise that there could be circumstances where a person may need to report a matter that has taken place in a setting outside of the person's engagement with the Organisation.

Usually, any appropriate steps following a safeguarding referral in respect of an individual connected to the Organisation will include either:

  • further initial enquiries
  • escalation to the applicable Local Authority Children's Services department for assessment and/or the police for investigation
  • instigation of any appropriate disciplinary, formal investigation processes and suspension of any person concerned within the Organisation
  • a referral to Access Northern Ireland, or any other relevant regulatory bodies

Any person within the Organisation who has allegations made against them shall be informed properly in a formal meeting of the particulars of the allegations and the relevant next steps which shall be taken. Such a meeting should ordinarily be held by the Safeguarding Officer. On certain occasions, such a meeting may not be convened until this has been approved by any authorities involved (such as the police or the relevant Local Authority).

Any person from within the Organisation who has allegations made against them shall be treated fairly. All enquires, investigations and decisions taken shall be just and fair, with the safety of any child concerned at the heart of the process.

Any person from within the Organisation who makes an allegation against another person from within the Organisation shall be listened to, taken seriously and shall be treated fairly and justly throughout the process of enquiries, investigations and decision making.

Access Northern Ireland Checks and Reporting

Checks under the appropriate legislation should be undertaken wherever required. The groups of people we will usually undertake checks with Access Northern Ireland in relation to are:

  • all employees who undertake activities with children

Wherever we deem it is necessary and appropriate to remove any individual from a position of work in a activity which is regulated under the relevant legislation, we shall also be obliged to make a referral to Access Northern Ireland.

Safeguarding Children at the Organisation

Responsibilities and Planning

Although the Safeguarding Officer will hold ultimate responsibility for overseeing the safety of children present at the Organisation, all individuals under this policy must also play an active role in ensuring the safety of children at all times.

Where a certain type of events, activity or trip is taking place, we may issue an additional code of conduct, policy, or some specific other requirements which is specific to that occasion. Any such additional documentation will be made available to all those concerned (staff members, parents, guardians etc.) in advance. They should be read carefully and adhered to.

Appropriate background checking shall be undertaken wherever we are legally required to do so in respect of adults who are engaged by us (see the relevant section above).

Venues

The location for any events, activities and trips which are held by us shall always be risk assessed properly in reference to the suitability and safety for children. Fire and safety procedures and precautions shall be made clear to all those involved.

First Aid

Olivia McGrath is First Aid trained and will follow the basic first aid in the workplace procedures as outlined by the Health and Safety Executive. 

Please see link for further details https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg347.pdf

Any accident or injury concerning a child should be brought to the attention of the nearest first aider and should thereafter be formally reported to the Safeguarding Officer.

Consent Forms

We shall always obtain written consent from a parent or guardian in the following circumstances:

  • when children are attending group activities such as sensory circuits or sensory play group whereby the parent will not be in attendance

Consent will be obtained via:

  • via online consent form accessible through the website or via written consent for those unable to access the internet.

Consent forms will include emergency contact details and will set out any specific safety needs/requirements for children.

All consent forms will be kept secure and shall be stored in accordance with our data protection privacy policy.

Supervision

For most activities and events, our procedure for supervision of children is as follows:

  • For groups of children between the ages of 9 and 12 there shall be one adult supervising a group of 8, for children between the ages of 12 and 16 there shall be 1 adult supervising a group of 10.

Wherever a child attend our premises alongside their parent or guardian, parents and guardians should ensure that children are properly supervised.

Trauma and Attachment informed recognition of emotional and physical dysregulation of Children Generally

Whenever any adult engaged by us is faced with difficult emotional or physical dysregulation from a child or between children, they must:

  • treat each child fairly and equally
  • approach the situation in a calm and neutral manner
  • employ trauma and attachment informed strategies to de-escalate the situation
  • make a written record of the incident and ensure this is reported appropriately to the Safeguarding Officer

Managing Risks Posed by Other Children

It is important for all adults engaged by us to recognise that children can face harm from their peers. This can commonly take the form of bullying. Bullying can be defined as any behaviour which is:

  • repeated; and
  • has the intention of hurting somebody either physically or emotionally.

Bullying can sometimes be motivated by prejudices based on certain groups, for example gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. Bullying can often include:

  • physical harm perpetrated against another child
  • name calling and threats
  • cyberbullying (threats and abusive comments made via technology)

Any instance of bullying or concern relating to possible bullying between children at any event or activities arranged by us will usually be dealt with by us in the first instance as follows:

  • treat each child fairly and equally
  • approach the situation in a calm and neutral manner
  • employ trauma and attachment informed strategies to de-escalate the situation
  • make a written record of the incident and ensure this is reported appropriately to the Safeguarding Officer
  • inform parents/carer’s/legal guardians of the incident and collaborate with them on best next steps for resolution.

Where any behaviour amounting to bullying continues following this, the following steps will be taken:

  • communicate closely with parents/carer’s/legal guardians and continue to  collaborate with them to reach a resolution.

All steps in relation to the prevention or management of bullying should be taken in consultation with the Safeguarding Officer.

Photography

Our Photographs

On some occasions, we may take photographs featuring children. We recognise that photography of children carries risks, such as:

  • the potential for images to be re-used, shared or adapted in a damaging or inappropriate manner
  • the general risk of sharing images and the impact this could have on child's public image as they grow older

In view of these risks, we will:

  • always ask for written permission from a child and their parent/guardian before taking and sharing any image of them
  • always ensure that a child and their parent/guardian are properly informed how an image will be used and shared
  • always ensure that a child's identity is protected as far as is possible within any published material
  • ask that parents, guardians, children and any other person connected to them who may wish to share any of our published images which features other children to refrain from doing so unless they have the permission of the other children and their parent/guardian
  • always store photos in accordance with our data protection policy.

Members of the Public

We do also recognise that members of the public may take photographs when they are attending our premises, events or activities.

We ask that any parents, guardians and other members of the public take the following into consideration when taking photos at our premises, events or activities:

  • images of other children should not be shared on social media without the permission of any children who feature in the images (where ascertainable), together with the permission of the children's parent/guardian
  • images which are shared on social media should be shared cautiously, with the appropriate privacy and security settings in place.

Further information is contained in our photography policy which can be found:

  • On our website and within the Policy folder in the practice reception area

Other Policies

We have referred within this document to the following other important policies which should be read in conjunction with this policy:

  • Our data protection policy
  • Our first aid policy
  • Our photography policy
  • Our Emotional and physical dysregulation policy

This policy should also be read in conjunction with:

  • The Health and Safety Policy and Employee Background Check Policy located on our website and within the Policy folder available in the practice reception area.

Legal Framework

This policy has been drawn up in accordance with all relevant and applicable legislation and guidance available to the Organisation in the jurisdictions it operates within.

This Policy is approved and robustly endorsed by THERAPY CENTRE NI and is due for review every 12 MONTHS.

Signed: Olivia McGrath (Safeguarding Officer)

Date:
3rd January 2024

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