Safeguarding children: How to protect the children in your care

Safeguarding children: How to protect the children in your care

The definition of safeguarding is ensuring children are protected from significant harm due to abuse or neglect.

It’s something we all hope we’ll never have to deal with, but it involves protecting children from being mistreated, preventing risk to their health or development, and making sure they are cared for safely.


It goes without saying that it’s of the utmost importance, so here’s some information which might help you when it comes to keeping the children in your care out of harm’s way.


Why the child’s needs are paramount


The cornerstone of safeguarding is consistently and transparently putting a child’s needs first. It’s also crucial to support children at all times so that if any potential issues do arise, they can be prevented from getting worse.


Ofsted provides detailed guidance to help childminders meet safeguarding requirements. However, you should also be aware of legislation and government guidance on safeguarding, and make sure you keep yourself up-to-date with any changes in legislation.


Spotting danger signals and acting on them


Childminders must understand how to identify signals that could indicate abuse, as well as how to react and make a referral to child protection authorities.


The government has put together two frameworks, designed to help people in the UK working with children to deliver effective safeguarding. These are Working together to safeguard children’ (2015) and What to do if you’re worried a child is being abused’ (2015).


It is vital for childminders to get to grips with this guidance and put safeguarding measures relevant to their circumstances in place. These measures should set out how concerns about children will be managed and acted on.


As well as this, you’ll need to make sure that your procedures comply with those of the local children’s safeguarding board.


As well as being aware of signs of abuse and knowing how to report concerns, you must also be prepared to ask difficult questions of parents and carers, and not take explanations at face value – especially if they sound unconvincing.


At every turn it is worth reminding yourself that the child’s right to be protected from harm is always the number one priority.


The importance of a healthy and hygienic environment


Promoting health and wellbeing is a key part of safeguarding. For example, high standards of hygiene will help to stop infections and illnesses from spreading. As well as this, childminders need to be familiar with handling medication and looking after children who become ill. It’s also important to be able to recognise the signs of allergies.


And it goes without saying that you should encourage healthy eating, make sure fresh drinking water is easily available, and guarantee your setting meets all first aid requirements.


Why risk assessments are key to effective safeguarding


Carrying out risk assessments enables you to recognise areas of your childminding practice that need to be regularly checked, establish what actions should be taken, and ensure they are implemented quickly and efficiently.


A risk assessment should cover practical issues such as the daily timetable, potentially risky areas or aspects of your premises, the safe management of trips out, and dealing with children whose behaviour may be challenging.


Childminders aren’t expected to remove every element of risk but instead to take ‘reasonable precautions’ so that everyone involved in the care of children has the correct training and is aware of their responsibilities. We’ve written a blog about the importance of risk assessments here.


The information in this blog is intended as a guide only.


When working with infants and families, it’s important that you’re adequately protected. Fish Childcare Insurance offers comprehensive policies for childmindersnon-registered childmindersdoulas and maternity nurses, starting at just £49 per year. For more information, click here or give a member of our friendly team a call on 0333 331 3930.


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