The protection of our children is, of course, the priority of all toddler groups and therefore, we should all have what is called a ‘Safeguarding Policy’. This includes a staff recruitment procedure, good practice guidelines for workers and a system for reporting any suspected or alleged abuse.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because parents and carers are always present and the children are so young a Safeguarding Policy isn’t necessary for your group. All staff (whether paid or volunteers) are in a position of trust, and will engage with the children to some degree. And sadly, the reality is that out of 34,000 children placed under a protection plan in England in 2009, over 15,000 were under the age of 5(1).
Having a Safeguarding Policy
If your toddler group is operating from a church, then it may come under the church’s Safeguarding Policy. This should be discussed with the church so that you are both clear about the policy and lines of accountability.
If your toddler group hasn’t already got one, put a Safeguarding Policy in place as soon as possible. For groups that already have a policy, make sure that it’s up-to-date and your workers have undertaken appropriate safeguarding training
Make sure that everyone coming to the toddler group knows about the Safeguarding Policy, what’s in it and especially who they can go to should they have any concerns. The policy should give an assurance that those involved in running the group have been recruited safely and are following good practice guidance.
Toddler groups need to comply with legislation and government expectations with regards to safeguarding. Where abuse is disclosed or suspected, this needs to be reported to the statutory authorities (Children’s Social Care or the Police). In addition, others may need to be informed; if an allegation is made against a worker then the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) will need to be contacted. If your group is a charity, tell the Charity Commission about any serious incidents and be aware that the group’s insurers may need to be informed too.