Child Protection Policy Statement


Child Protection Policy Statement

WELC has adopted and adhere fully to the principles and commitments required by Children First Policies and Legislation

1. Our approach to dealing with our students is underscored by the beliefs that:

a. The safety, welfare and well-being of the Child / Young Person is the most important thing;
b. All children have the right to equal protection from all types of harm or abuse;
c. Working in partnership with Children, Young People, their Parents / Guardians, Homestay Providers, Agencies, Leaders, Teachers, Guardians and other stakeholders in delivering each programme (Schools, activity, transport providers…) and state agencies are essential in promoting Young People’s welfare

Responsibility for ensuring WELC fully complies with legislation and statutory requirements lies with the Designated Liaison person (DLP) supported by the Deputy Designated Liaison Person (DDLP).

2. Our principles to safeguard children.

a. The safety and well-being of children and vulnerable adults in our care is paramount.
b. Ensuring child safety is everyone’s responsibility.
c. Children have a right to be heard and to be involved in decisions that affect them.
d. Collaboratively working with relevant stakeholders for the good of the child/vulnerable adult offers the best route to a successful outcome.

3. Liaisons

    • Designated Liaison Person (DLP) School Director – Welfare and Accommodation officer Bridget Behal (0872422651) bridget@welc.ie
    • Deputy Designated Liaison Person (DDLP) Academic & Quality Director Joe Brennan (0872281365) joe@welc.ie
    • Mandated Person Director Fionnuala Behal (0874490369) Fionnuala@welc.ie

CHILD PROTECTION PROCEDURE

The safety, welfare and well-being of children/students is a priority in WELC. All WELC Staff including directly employed Staff, Homestay Hosts, Accommodation and Transport Providers, Volunteers, Interns and anyone working on behalf of WELC are expected to read and abide by the Policy, Guidelines and Procedures set out in this document.


In addition, all adults working on behalf of WELC have the responsibility to:


a) Recognise the signs of abuse
b) Document and/or report any incident(s)
c) Communicate to management and / or talk to the DLP regarding any incident or concerns
d) Liaise with DLP with any subsequent action

DEFINITIONS OF ABUSE

1. Neglect
When a child receives inadequate care or supervision and is deprived of food, warmth, hygiene, medical care or intellectual stimulation.

2. Emotional
When a child’s basic needs for attention, affection, approval, consistency and security are not met.

3. Physical
When someone deliberately hurts a child or puts them at risk of being hurt physically.

4. Sexual
When a child is used for the gratification or arousal of others or is exposed to sexual activity.

SIGNS OF ABUSE

NeglectEmotionalPhysicalSexual
-Hunger -Hygiene issues -Complaining of being  tired all the time -Not requesting  medical assistance -Having a few friends -Mentioning being left alone or unsupervised-Neurotic behaviour e.g. sucking, hair twisting, rocking -Being unable to play -Fear of making mistakes -Sudden speech disorders -Self-harm -Fear of parent being approached regarding their behaviour -Developmental delay in terms of emotional progress-Bruising/cuts etc. -Aggressive behaviour or severe temper outbursts -Flinching when approached or touched -Reluctance to get changed, for example in hot weather -Depression Withdrawn behaviour-Sudden or unexplained changes in behaviour e.g. becoming aggressive or withdrawn. -Fear of being left with a specific person or group of people -Having nightmares -Sexual drawings or language -Bedwetting -Eating problems -Self-harm -Saying they have secrets they cannot tell anyone about -Substance abuse -Acting in a sexually explicit way  

Mandated Persons

The following staff members have a legal obligation to report concerns of abuse to TUSLA;
The management/school or centre manager.
The DLP and DDLP.
Teaching Council-recognised teachers.

Reporting Procedure

a) Any concerned stakeholder makes a report to the DLP in confidence
b) In any cases where a child/vulnerable adult may be at immediate risk, immediate action is taken to remove them to safety.
c) The DLP records the report in as much detail as possible.
d) If an accusation of abuse involves a staff member protocols listed below are implemented
e) The DLP may consult TUSLA social worker for advice.
f) The DLP makes a report to TUSLA and may dual report to the Gardai if warranted.
g) The stakeholder is informed and may be involved in making a joint report to TUSLA.
h) The DLP liaises with TUSLA and any other state agencies involved in follow up.
i) Throughout the process, details are shared on a need-to-know basis only.
j) A stakeholder may make a report to TUSLA with/without the support of the DLP

Allegations concerning employees

a) Any allegation against a staff member will be dealt with sensitively
b) Support will be provided both to the child and the staff member throughout the enquiry process (while the safety and welfare of the child is the most important consideration)
c) Where necessary, legal advice will be taken by the school.
d) The staff member may be suspended or put on restricted duties pending the outcome of the enquiry
e) There will be an initial enquiry meeting at which
a. The manager will inform the employee of the alleged allegation and the action been taken
b. the employee will be allowed the bring a support person with them
c. the employee will be allowed to reply to the accusation
f) The matter will be dealt with in line with the disciplinary procedure in the Employee Handbook

Protection for Persons Reporting Child Abuse

Anyone reporting suspicions of abuse ‘reasonably and in good faith’ is immune from civil liability.

Role of Designated Liaison Person

a) To ensure reports of abuse are taken seriously and recorded accurately.
b) To inform parents/guardians of the report-once to do so would not further endanger the child/reporting stakeholder or make investigating the claim more difficult.
c) To keep a record of all such communications and keep such records securely.
d) To assess the seriousness of reports of abuse.
e) To liaise with the TUSLA (Waterford 051-842827) in determining if the situation warrants a full report.
f) To contact TUSLA and/or Gardai immediately if any child is in imminent danger of abuse.
g) To act as a liaison between the school and any outside agencies dealing with such reports.
h) To act as a resource for any staff with child protection concerns.
i) To keep up to date with the statutory and legal requirements of child protection legislation.

COMMUNICATION AND TRAINING

Communication

a) The DLP is responsible for ensuring all relevant information is shared with WELC stakeholders
b) Our Child Protection Policy statement is displayed physically outside the office
c) Our Child protection Policy is included and/or referenced in
a. Staff handbooks, student handbooks, host family handbooks, agent handbooks
b. Staff recruitment literature and required documentation
c. Staff induction and student induction
d. Host family application materials
e. Website links
f. Our documented curriculum framework
d) Our policy is shared with staff during in-house training sessions and review meetings

Training

a) All staff are provided with training resources from Children First.
b) Key staff (incl DLP, Guardians and managers) attend off-site/online training at least once every 3 years to keep up to date with best practice.
c) Training materials for key roles include safeguarding guidelines.

GARDA VETTING

All school staff, host families, guardians, leaders and drivers are garda vetted (See WELC Vetting Policy and Procedures). All 3rd party providers (e.g. coach company, adventure centre, activity providers, …) in contact with our students have been checked to see that they comply with current Child Protection Legislation. Staff, guardians, host families and drivers are garda vetted every 3 years. Host families must inform WELC within three days of any change in circumstances which may affect or change the vetting status of any stakeholder/family member. Host families understand that failure to report such changes in a timely fashion may be regarded as a breach of contract and may result in the termination of current hosting arrangement and/or the removal of the host family from the hosting register.


STAKEHOLDER BEHAVIOUR

The school ethos is built on a basis of mutual respect between students, staff members and stakeholders. Our Code of behaviours and Anti-bullying policy are in the appendices. Disciplinary procedures for staff are in our employee handbook.

RECRUITMENT

Using thorough recruitment procedures (such as seeking and following up of references and ensuring that any unexplained gaps in employment records/curriculum vitae are satisfactorily accounted for) are an essential element of good child protection practice.
(See WELC Recruitment Policy)

ATTENDANCE AT ACTIVITES AND CLASSES

a) Attendance for classes and group activities is compulsory.
b) Teachers, Leaders and Guardians keep attendance records.
c) The group leader/teacher/school staff will inform WELC office/leader/guardian or centre/academic manager immediately if an under-18 student is 15 minutes late or absent
d) The management team then find out where the student is and why they are missing.

SUPERVISION OF STUDENTS, SPORTING ACTIVITIES/SCHOOL OUTINGS/TRAVEL

a) Staff should avoid situations where they are alone with an U18. If staff are required to be in a one-to-one setting with an U18, staff should consider how this can be managed effectively i.e. leaving a door open, using a room that has a glass wall, positioning yourself within sight of the door and considering if the one-to-one setting is really necessary.
b) For all WELC junior lessons, there is always at least one other staff member (in addition to the teacher) on site.
c) For all WELC school outings there is a designated leader in charge of headcounts, safety, and organisation.
d) When travelling with individual students by car, the designated leader/driver ensures the student sits in the back of the car and there should be no detours or unnecessary stops on the journey.
e) For airport transfers, all under-18 students must be accompanied by a responsible adult who will remain with the student until they have gone through security gates.
f) Adult to student ratios are 1:8 for children under 12 and 1:15 for children 12 to 18 years.
g) Staff maintain professional and appropriate physical and relationship boundaries with students and should not socialise with U18 outside of WELC organised events.
h) Staff must always use appropriate language with students for example avoiding innuendos, swearing and discussing their or your own intimate relationships.
i) Staff do not favour any one student above another especially engaging in any behaviour that may be construed as ‘grooming’ a U18 for example giving money, presents or favours or talking or behaving in an inappropriate or unprofessional manner.
j) Staff should not enforce specific beliefs and lifestyle choices on students for example political and religious views.
k) Staff must never take inappropriate videos or photos with or of students. All photos should be WELC sanctioned in advance.
l) Staff must always dress appropriately and wear WELC uniform during activities/excursions.
m) Staff must not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol whilst on duty and should under no circumstances offer students drugs or alcohol or cigarettes.
n) All Drivers should adhere to the Code of Conduct as WELC Staff Members.
o) All Transport Vehicles used by WELC will provide confirmation that the vehicles are safe to use as per RSA & HSA Checklist.
p) Conduct all interactions in a calm manner and avoid shouting at U18s wherever this is possible unless there is a Health and Safety risk.
q) Ensure physical contact is within clear boundaries to avoid any allegations of inappropriate touching.
r) Staff should not enter a students bedroom without knocking and should be accompanied by another staff member, unless of an emergency.