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The Children Act 2004 subsequently became law and set out these outcomes in statute, as well as the Government’s approach to the well-being of children and young people from birth to age. To achieve these outcomes, children need to feel loved and valued, and be supported by a network of reliable and affectionate relationships. If they are denied the opportunity and support they need to achieve these outcomes, children are at increased risk not only of an impoverished childhood, but also of disadvantage and social exclusion in adulthood. Abuse and neglect pose particular problems. Everyone shares responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people, irrespective of individual roles. Nevertheless, it is vital that, in order that organisations and practitioners collaborate effectively, all partners who work with children; including local authorities, the police, the health service, the courts, professionals, the voluntary sector and individual members of local communities are aware of, and appreciate, the role that each of them play in this area.
Although all organisations that work with children and young people share a commitment to safeguard and promote their welfare, many organisations have specific roles and responsibilities to do so that are underpinned by a statutory duty or duties. Early year’s providers have a duty under section 40 of the Childcare Act 2006 to comply with the welfare requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage, under which providers are required to take necessary steps to safeguard and promote the welfare of young children. While parents and children have the right to confidentiality, there are occasions when the need to maintain confidentiality might be breached. This could be where a child or young person is suspected of committing abuse or when someone is suspected that a crime has been/may be committed. Child abuse is a serious issue. The physical, sexual or emotional damage inflicted upon children can remain with them their whole lives. Children are considered our greatest natural resource. As such, they deserve the quality of care and protection that keeps them safe from harm.
We all have a legal and moral obligation to promote the safety, and well-being of children; this includes responding efficiently and effectively to child abuse. Although parents and guardians are primarily responsible for ensuring that children’s rights are upheld, governments, service providers and community members also have an important role in protecting children. Good record keeping is an important part of a professional’s task. Records should use clear, straightforward language, be concise, and accurate. They should clearly differentiate between facts, opinion, judgements and hypothesis. Well-kept records are essential to good child protection practice. Safeguarding children requires information to be brought together from a number of sources, and careful professional judgements to be made on the basis of this information. Records must be clear, accessible, and comprehensive.
The subject of a record does have the right in law to request access to them at any stage. Judgements made, actions and decisions taken should be carefully recorded. Where decisions have been taken jointly across agencies, or endorsed by a manager, this should be made clear on the case records. Relevant information will normally be collated in one place by social services. Records should clearly provide the chronology of the case and should demonstrate how the process has been managed by the professional and indicate how actions taken and decisions made have been endorsed by line managers and senior managers. Specifically, the reader should be able to track the plan for the case through: The information about the child and family and actions taken from referral through interventions to outcome and closure of the case. Identified and potential risks of harm, the source of harm and those at risk. The intended outcome for the child, the interventions which have taken place, by whom and the reasons for intervention. The evidence that change has taken place.
An analysis of the progress that is being made.
Each agency should ensure that when a child moves outside its area the child’s records are transferred promptly to the relevant agency in the new locality. Cases where enquiries do not substantiate the original concerns should be retained in accordance with the agency’s record retention policy. This policy should ensure that records are stored safely and can be retrieved promptly and efficiently. Research and experience have shown repeatedly that safeguarding children requires professionals and others to share information about a child’s health, development and exposure to possible harm; a parent who may need help, or may not be able, to care for a child adequately and safely; and those who may pose a risk of harm to a child. Often, it is only when information from a number of sources has been shared that it becomes clear that a child is at risk. Personal information about children and families held by professionals is subject to a duty of confidence, and should normally not be disclosed without the consent of the subject. However, the law permits the disclosure of confidential information necessary to safeguard a child.
Professionals can only work together effectively to safeguard children, if there is an exchange of relevant information between them. This has been recognised in principle by the courts. Any disclosure of personal information to others must always, however, have regard to both common and statute law. Normally, personal information should only be disclosed to third parties (including other agencies) with the consent of the subject of that information. Wherever possible, consent should be obtained before sharing personal information. In some circumstances, consent may not be obtained, but the safety of the child dictates that the information should be shared. Practitioners have a duty of care towards children and young people and should always act in a way which ensures their safety.
They should remember that they are in a position of trust and should always listen to children and reassure them about issues which concern them. If you are in a position where a child confides in you, it is important to remember that there are some situations in which you will need to disclose the information to others and breach confidentiality. This is particularly true in cases of suspected child abuse or when it is suspected that a crime has been/may be committed. You should at all times tell the individual that you will not be able to keep confidentiality if they disclose something to you which you cannot keep to yourself for these reasons. Breaching confidentiality with a child could have a knock on effect on the child; these may include: Breakdown in relationship between practitioner and child
Breakdown in communication between practitioner and child.
Child mistrusting and not feeling safe around practitioners and others. Child not feeling loved.
Child being psychologically damaged.
Child suffering from low confidence and self-esteem.
Change in child’s behaviour (i.e. misbehaving).
Child being in constant fear that it may happen again.
The potential tension between maintaining confidentiality with the need to disclose information where abuse of a child or young person is suspected or when it is suspected that a crime has been/may be committed with family members are: The parent may feel/act out angrily towards you.
Possible threats being made towards you.
Parent withdrawing from the setting.
Parent abusing the child furthermore and it escalating into an even more harmful situation.