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Child and Youth Safeguarding Policy

1.1 Introduction

Safeguarding is of paramount importance to Toybox. Therefore, this is a key Board level policy that needs to be adhered to at all times.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and International Programmes Director (IPD) will review the policy every three years; if there is a significant incident, change in operating context, best practice or legislation then a review of the policy will happen within one month of any such incidents or changes. This policy, and the accompanying procedures, applies to consultants, employees, trustees and volunteers and adherence to it is mandatory. Toybox partner organisations are also informed of and sign this Safeguarding Policy and accompanying procedures. The Toybox Partnership Approach ensures that there is alignment between the Toybox Safeguarding Policy and Procedures and those of our partner organisations. Toybox staff will ensure that when undertaking direct work with children and youth, this Safeguarding Policy and Procedures are applied.

1.2 Purpose of the policy

The Toybox Safeguarding Policy highlights the welfare of all children and youth is paramount and that no child or youth (or groups of these) must be treated any less favourably than others in being able to access services which meet their particular needs. Toybox policy is that all children and youth, without exception, have the right to protection from abuse and neglect regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexuality or beliefs. Street-connected children are especially vulnerable to potential abuse, exploitation, and ill-treatment at the hands of carers, project workers, and those with access to their personal information.

Many have already experienced ruptured relationships of trust or abuse of an adult-child relationship in the form of physical, sexual, emotional abuse and neglect[1].

Toybox will seek to safeguard children and youth by ensuring that all concerns and allegations of abuse are taken seriously by trustees and employees and responded to appropriately. It is not Toybox’s role to determine whether a child has been abused but rather to refer concerns of abuse to the correct authorities.

The protection of children and youth is the responsibility of all those employed by Toybox and as a result the organisation is committed to ensuring that the recruitment process of all consultants, employees, trustees and volunteers clearly states that everyone has responsibility to adhere to the Toybox Safeguarding Policy and Procedures.

1.3 Principles

This policy is based on the following principles:[2]

  • The welfare of the child or youth should be safeguarded and promoted;
  • Working in partnership with other agencies in the protection of children and youth is important;
  • Toybox and partner staff and associates have the right to training and guidance;
  • Children and youth are individuals with their own needs, wishes and feelings.

1.4 Legal Framework

This policy refers to safeguarding of children and youth and has been drawn up on the basis of law and guidance that seeks to protect children and youth, namely:

  • The upholding of the rights of the child to protection from harm, abuse and exploitation as set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC);

  • That Voluntary organisations have the responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of children as set out in Working Together to Safeguard Children (HM Government 2013);

  • The essential inclusions for a child protection policy detailed in Safeguarding Children and Young People Policy Paper (The Charity Commission 2014).

Toybox has additional policies and procedures that should be read and adhered to in conjunction with this policy which are: Declaration on Photography; Partner assessment criteria (initial and full); Social Media Policy and Volunteers Policy.

For the purpose of this policy, a child is any person up to the age of 18, irrespective of local definitions. However, Toybox applies the UN’s definition of youth [3] as up to 24 and Toybox works with this age group as well as children. Therefore, this Safeguarding Policy specifically guides our work with children under the age of 18 and youth up to the age of 24 as well as adult of any age.

1.5 Management Structure

  • The CEO and IPD are the designated persons within Toybox who are responsible for the implementation of the Safeguarding Policy.

  • All staff are aware they can talk to these members of staff about safeguarding issues.

  • All individuals working directly with children or youth or with direct access to information on children and youth will be given ongoing line management support and guidance and access to training.

  • The disclosure of personal information about children and youth, including legal cases, is limited to those consultants, employees, trustees and volunteers who need to know.

  • The Toybox Board have the responsibility to assure themselves that Toybox’s Safeguarding Policy is being implemented. The inclusion of safeguarding in the organisational KPIs and risk register supports the regular review of safeguarding at Board level.

1.6 Personnel Recruitment

When recruiting consultants, employees, trustees and volunteers, whether paid or unpaid, full time or part time, temporary or long-term, having direct or indirect contact with children or youth, Toybox will adhere to a thorough and standardised procedure which will include: - A basic, standard or enhanced disclosure (depending on level of contact with children or youth) through the Disclosure and Barring Service.

  • A requirement for the potential employee, consultants, trustees and volunteers to read, understand and accept compliance with Toybox’s Safeguarding Policy and Procedures as part of the terms and conditions of engagement and to sign a statement of commitment in accordance to their job descriptions

  • All potential employees, consultants, trustees and volunteers shall be requested to disclose any relevant criminal convictions, including those considered ‘spent’.

  • The requirement of two character references (excluding family members and those who have known the applicant personally for less than two years).

  • Job adverts will contain wording regarding the importance of Safeguarding to Toybox.

  • During the interview process, where appropriate, applicants will be asked about previous work with children and youth and will be given a case scenario about how to manage a child or youth abuse concern.

1.7 Education and Training

  • The Toybox induction process for all consultants, employees, trustees and volunteers includes familiarisation with the Safeguarding Policy and Procedures including the Code of Conduct; training on the nature of abuse, the youth abuse. The training will be provided as soon as possible (at least within three months and before any international travel) of taking up their position and then refresher training given for all staff at least every two years.

  • The need for ongoing skills development in the area of safeguarding for staff will be identified in 1:1s and appraisals.

  • Consultants, employees, trustees and volunteers, where appropriate, who have access to information about children or youth such as personal contact information or any other details of a child’s or youth’s personal life will be trained to fully understand what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable sharing of information regarding children and how and where such information should be stored.

2. What is Child or Youth Abuse and Neglect?

Child or youth abuse is any action by another person – adult or child – which causes significant harm to a child or youth. It can be physical, sexual or emotional, but can just as often be about a lack and neglect of love, care and attention. We know that neglect, whatever form it takes, can be just as damaging to a child as physical abuse. An abused child will often experience more than one type of abuse, as well as other difficulties in their lives. It often happens over a period of time, rather than being a one-off event. And it can increasingly happen online. The types of abuse are:

  • Sexual abuse

  • Physical abuse

  • Emotional abuse

  • Neglect

  • Internet abuse and abusive images

  • Abuse linked to belief i.e. ‘witchcraft’

  • Spiritual abuse

3 Toybox Safeguarding Procedures

3.1 Prevention – Creating a safe organisation

Toybox looks to prevent safeguarding issues arising in Toybox as a result of building it into all aspects of the culture and processes, from the recruitment processes, to trainings, having a code of conduct, as well as having clear and accessible reporting processes. By having Safeguarding built into the Leadership Team and Board KPIs and processes, it will ensure that Safeguarding is taking seriously. When choosing new partners, safeguarding will be a key part of the initial and full partner assessments. Significant gaps may mean that Toybox chooses not to partner with an organisation. Other gaps will be built into the capacity building plan.

3.1.1 Code of Conduct for Working with Children and Youth

Toybox has developed a Code of Conduct to give guidance on expected behaviour of adults towards children, youth and other adults. Toybox has a zero tolerance of exploitation and abuse in any form. This includes harmful behaviour towards children by any trustee, staff member, volunteer or external consultant in any context. This also includes abuse towards children or youth who do not benefit from our programmes or in countries in which we do not work, and while engaged in activities outside of work hours, as well as those relating to official Toybox business. The Code of Conduct should be interpreted in a spirit of transparency and common sense, with the best interests of the child or youth as the primary consideration. Toybox representatives will follow up with partners to ensure they are following an agreed Code of Conduct. If you would like more specific information about the Code of Conduct please get in touch [email protected]

3.2 Responding to Child and Youth

3.2.1 Reporting Concerns

  • All Toybox consultants, employees, trustees and volunteers must act immediately and report suspicions, however uncertain, to either the CEO or IPD. If the concern involves both the CEO and the IPD, then the reporting of these concerns should be to the Chair of Trustees, whose contact details are [email protected]. The CEO, IPD or Chair of Trustees may then seek guidance on further action from local social services and the police. If concerns are highlighted about the Chair of the Board please approach the Treasurer or CEO.

  • For people in the project communities that want to raise an incident, contact information will be made available as to how a concern can be raised. This will include two contacts in the partner as well as the Toybox whistle-blower e-mail. The partner will decide the best way for the contact details to be made available to the community. This could be done via a user-friendly methods i.e. a clear and engaging poster or leaflet.

  • All incidents and concerns must be reported using the Toybox Critical Incident Report Form, saving these in a protected electronic folder and in a locked filing cabinet for hard copies. The CEO has the responsibility for maintaining the confidentiality of all records.

  • Toybox will use the reporting flowchart as given by Keeping Children Safe. All partners will be required to develop their own reporting process as well as a reporting flowchart based on the context and the designated person identified.

  • If a child is reporting a case, Toybox and its partner will ensure that the child has an adult they trust with them when giving information about the incident. Adults do not legally require this but Toybox encourages that this approach is also applied to adults, especially to youth.

  • Any person sharing information in confidence should be told that it may need to shared with relevant people and agencies (see below on responding to concerns).

  • Toybox and its partners will be sensitive when receiving reports from children and youth and will strive not to re-traumatise them in the handling of the complaint.

3.2.2 Responding to Reported Concerns

  • Toybox acknowledges that the guiding principle that the best interest youth adult should always govern decisions regarding what action should be taken in response to concerns.

  • If an allegation of abuse is made from a verifiable source, concerning a named member of staff, trustee, volunteer or consultant, they may be suspended from all activity/association with Toybox pending the outcome of an independent investigation.

  • Depending on the outcome of this independent investigation, Toybox will take any further action which may be required which could include disciplinary action, dismissal and/or the ending of the relationship with Toybox.

  • Toybox will provide supervision and support to contractors, employees, trustees, and/or volunteers during and following an incident or allegation.

  • The decision of a case will be communicated to the person whom the allegation concerns and then to the person who reported the matter.

  • For significant incidents, Toybox will bring in an external person (i.e. representative from the local council) to the investigation and decision-making on the case, so ensuring objectivity.

  • Toybox will continually monitor and learn from our responses to and reporting of safeguarding concerns through mechanisms such as 1:1s, quarterly reviews, partnership reviews and case study reports.

  • Contact details for child protection services, local social services department, police, emergency medical help and helplines (e.g. NSPCC) in the UK are readily available and easily accessible to organisation representatives. And information on reporting incidents to the Charity Commission is also readily available.

3.2.3 Near Misses

  • It is acknowledged that even if the Code of Conduct is followed situations can arise that are beyond the individual’s control. If the individual finds that the situation has changed (i.e. suddenly finds that they are alone with a child) and they are in breach of the code of conduct, they should try to change or remove themselves from the situation.

  • These incidents are counted as ‘near misses’ and should be reported. The reporting is not to penalise the individual but to protect them by showing that they were aware and took action. It also allows Toybox to have a record of the event if later a complaint is made by a child or youth.

4. Monitoring of Safeguarding Policy

It is important for Toybox to monitor how this policy is being put into action as well as to monitor how our partners are putting either the Toybox policy into practice or to have their own policy that is then implemented.

Toybox will have Safeguarding as a standing order at regular Leadership Team meetings. Safeguarding will be included in the organisational KPIs which will be reviewed and in quarterly board meetings. A monitoring plan will be developed for both Toybox and its partners and these two plans will be regularly updated. The gaps seen in the monitoring plan form for partners will be used to develop capacity building actions in the capacity building plans with each partner.

[1] Text taken from The Consortium for Street Children, Child Protection Policy (2010).

[2] As set out in Keeping Children Safe Tool 2 (2006).