Early years and childcare services – children’s centres, nurseries, childminders, preschools, playgroups, and holiday and out-of-school schemes – all play an important part in the lives of large numbers of children. Many childcare providers have considerable experience of working with families where a child needs to be safeguarded from harm, and many local authorities provide, commission or sponsor specific services, including childminders, to work with children in need and their families.
All early years and childcare providers, regardless of type, size or funding of the setting, must:
- take necessary steps to safeguard and promote the welfare of children;
- promote the good health of children, take necessary steps to prevent the spread of infection, and take appropriate action when they are ill;
- manage children’s behaviour effectively and in a manner appropriately for their stage of development and particular individual needs; and
- ensure that adults looking after children, or having unsupervised access to them, are suitable to do so.
These general welfare requirements are set out in detail in the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
Millions of families use early years and childcare services on an annual basis, meaning that these services are a key route through which welfare concerns can be identified early in a child’s life. The EYFS makes clear that all registered providers, excepting childminders, must have a practitioner who is designated to take lead responsibility for safeguarding children within each setting and who should liaise with local statutory children’s services agencies as appropriate. This lead must also attend a child protection course. In addition, all early years and childcare settings must implement an effective safeguarding children policy and procedure.
It is expected that every person working in the early years and childcare sector should have an up-to-date knowledge of safeguarding children issues and be able to implement their setting’s safeguarding children policy and procedures appropriately. These policies should be in line with LSCB guidance and procedures.
The EYFS also makes clear that registered early years providers should follow the guidance What to do if you are worried a child is being abused. Such providers must notify local child protection agencies of any suspected child abuse or neglect in line with LSCB local guidance and procedures.