Safeguarding our children

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By Jennie Lindonearly childhood specialist.

Early years practitioners play a vital role in the safeguarding of children in their care. Jennie Lindon explains how effective communication with parents and fellow professionals can help us all to focus on the safe well-being of every child

Safeguarding our children

In March 2009, Lord Laming delivered his review of safeguarding provoked by the death of the toddler known as Baby P. The Protection of Children in England: A Progress Report emphasises that support for parents has to work alongside a strong focus on the well-being of children, not dependent on what their parents claim to be the situation. There is an equally strong focus on communication between different professions, and effective sharing of information between them.

Lord Laming concludes his review with a set of recommendations about tightening up practice. However, he does not alter the changes that emerged from the Every Child Matters programme, which followed Laming’s 2003 public inquiry into the death of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie.

Like Baby P, Victoria was a child who was known to Social Care and other local services. Deaths that should have been avoidable, challenge the safeguarding system. So, it is important to know that safeguarding practice regularly works to protect children and to enable families under stress to support their own children. Successful child protection never makes headlines: partly because the details are confidential, but also because good news is not seen as ‘news’.

The role of early years practitioners

Social workers form the sharp end of protection, because they work with families who have already been identified as being in significant difficulties. However, they cannot do their job without all the other professions who are involved with children and their families.

The recent Laming review highlighted the important role of early years practitioners, alongside other services. The Children Act 2004, and related guidance, described the responsibility of ‘safeguarding’ children and young people. The word ‘safeguarding’ includes the concept of ‘child protection’.

All responsible adults should act so as to:

  • help all children and young people to stay safe
  • protect all vulnerable children and young people
  • respond when children and young people have been harmed.

Your role is crucial because you see children on a regular basis and develop a personal relationship with them and their family. You get to know this baby, toddler or child, and therefore, what is usual for them. Your understanding of child development is equally important for your safeguarding role. You cannot judge what is out-of-the-ordinary for this age range, without knowing what is within the normal range of development and behaviour.

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