Child Protection Policy

Policy summary


This policy outlines our commitment to child protection. It includes our protocols when child abuse is reported to us or suspected by us. It also includes practice notes on measures to be taken to prevent child abuse. All staff are expected to be familiar with this policy and to abide by it.

Purpose statement


We have an obligation to ensure the wellbeing of children in our care and are committed to the prevention of child abuse and neglect and to the protection of all children. The safety and wellbeing of the child is our top priority when investigating suspected or alleged abuse.

We support the roles of the New Zealand Police (the Police) and Child, Youth and Family in the investigation of suspected abuse and will report suspected/alleged abuse to these agencies. We support families/whanau to protect their children.

We provide a safe environment, free from physical, emotional, verbal or sexual abuse.

Policy principles


The interest and protection of the child is paramount in all actions.
We recognise the rights of family/whanau to participate in the decision-making about their children.


We have a commitment to ensure that all staff are able to identify the signs and symptoms of potential abuse and neglect and are able to take appropriate action in response.
We are committed to supporting all staff to work in accordance with this policy, to work with partner agencies and organisations to ensure child protection policies are consistent and high quality.


We will always comply with relevant legislative responsibilities.
We are committed to share information in a timely way and to discuss any concerns about an individual child with colleagues, the Principal Dentist, Practice Manager or Human Resources.
We are committed to promoting a culture where staff feel confident that they can constructively challenge poor practice or raise issues of concern without fear of reprisal.

Definitions


Child abuse: Includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse as well as neglect which is the direct consequence of a deliberate act or omission by an adult and which has the potential or effect of serious harm to the child.

Identifying possible abuse or neglect


For information about identifying child abuse see http://www.cyf.govt.nz/documents/aboutus/publications/27713-working-together-3-0-45ppi.pdf
This resource produced by Child, Youth and Family is for people in social service agencies, schools, healthcare organisations, community and other groups who have close contact with children and families/whanau. It includes useful information about identifying possible child abuse and an assessment framework.

Responding to suspected abuse or neglect


All suspicions or observed incidents or reports of incidents should be reported directly to the Principal Dentist, Practice Manager or Human Resources as soon as possible, who will immediately take steps to protect the child(ren), record the report and report the concern to Child, Youth and Family.

If there is clear evidence or reasonable cause to believe an instance of child abuse having taken place, the Principal Dentist, Practice Manager or Human Resources shall notify Child, Youth and Family.

In addition to guiding staff to make referrals of suspected child abuse and neglect to the statutory agencies (i.e., Child, Youth and Family and the Police), this child protection policy will also help staff to identify and respond to the needs of the many vulnerable children whose wellbeing is of concern.

In many of these cases the involvement of statutory agencies would be inappropriate and potentially harmful to families/whanau. Throughout New Zealand statutory and non-statutory agencies provide a network of mutually supportive services and it is important for our organisation to work with these to respond to the needs of vulnerable children and families/whanau in a manner proportionate to the level of need and risk.

Staff members will discuss suspicions with a senior staff member.

Where appropriate, the person making the allegation will be given a copy of this policy.

Allegations or concerns about staff


When a staff member is suspected, the same processes apply. If there is a need to pursue an allegation as an employer, consult with Child, Youth and Family or the Police before advising the person concerned, informing them that they have a right to seek legal advice and providing them with an opportunity to respond. They should also be informed of their right to seek support and/or advice. It is vital to follow ordinary disciplinary policies, guided by the employment contract and relevant statutory obligations.

We commit not to use ‘settlement agreements’, where these are contrary to a culture of child protection. Some settlement agreements allow a member of staff to agree to resign provided that no disciplinary action is taken, and a future reference is agreed. Where the conduct at issue concerned the safety or wellbeing of a child, use of such agreements is contrary to a culture of child protection.

Recruitment and employment (safety checking)


Safety checking will be carried out in accordance with the Vulnerable Children Act 2014. This will include: a police vet; identity verification; references and an interview. A work history will be sought and previous employers will be contacted. If there is any suspicion that an applicant might pose a risk to a child, that applicant will not be employed.

Training, supervision and support


Training, resources and/or advice will be available to ensure that all staff can carry out their roles in terms of this policy, particularly:
Understanding child abuse and indicators of child abuse.
How to reduce the risk of child abuse.
Understanding and complying with legal obligations in regard to child abuse.
Working with outside agencies on child abuse issues.
Planning of environment and supervision to minimise risk.
Dealing with child/parents/family/whanau.

This policy will be part of the initial staff induction programme.