1.2 Underlying Policy, Principles and Values

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Last reviewed in April 2024

Date of next review April 2026

Contents

Introdcution

1.2.1

Nothing is more important than children’s welfare. Every child deserves to grow up in a safe, stable, and loving home. Children who need help and protection deserve high quality and effective support. This requires individuals, agencies, and organisations to be clear about their own and each other’s roles and responsibilities, and how they work together.

This policy sets out the underlying policy, principles and values underpinning safeguarding and child protection activity across Sussex.

Safeguarding and Promoting Children's Welfare

1.2.2

Throughout this procedures manual, safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined as:

  • providing help and support to meet the needs of children as soon as problems emerge
  • protecting children from maltreatment, whether that is within or outside the home, including online
  • preventing impairment of children’s mental and physical health or development
  • ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care
  • promoting the upbringing of children with their birth parents, or otherwise their family network4 through a kinship care arrangement, whenever possible and where this is in the best interests of the children
  • taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes in line with the outcomes set out in the Children’s Social Care National Framework.

In this procedures manual, a child is defined as anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday. ‘Children’ therefore means ‘children and young people’ throughout.

1.2.3

Child protection is part of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and is defined for the purpose of this guidance as activity that is undertaken to protect specific children who are suspected to be suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm. This includes harm that occurs inside or outside the home, including online.

1.2.4

Children may be vulnerable to neglect and abuse or exploitation from within their family and from individuals they come across in their day-to-day lives. These threats can take a variety of different forms, including: sexual, physical and emotional abuseneglect; domestic abuse, including controlling or coercive behaviour; exploitation by criminal gangs and organised crime groups; trafficking; online abuse; sexual exploitation and the influences of extremism leading to radicalisation. Whatever the form of abuse or neglect, practitioners should put the needs of children first when determining what action to take.

All professionals across Sussex play a role in ensuring children have optimum life chances to enter adulthood successfully.

Child Protection

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Child protection is part of safeguarding and promoting welfare. This refers to the activity that is undertaken to protect specific children who are suffering or at risk of suffering Significant Harm.

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Effective child protection is essential as part of wider work to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. However, all agencies and individuals should aim pro actively to safeguard and promote the welfare of children so that the need for action to protect children from harm is reduced.

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Professionals in all agencies and organisations (including public services, commissioned provider services and voluntary organisations; whether paid or a volunteer) who come into contact with children, who work with adult parents/carers or who gain knowledge about children through working with adults, should:

  • be alert to potential indicators of abuse or neglect
  • be alert to risk and vulnerability factors which can increase a child’s vulnerability to abuse and neglect
  • be aware that mental health problems can be an indicator that a child has suffered, or is at risk of suffering abuseneglect or exploitation
  • be alert to the risks which individual abusers, or potential abusers, may pose to children
  • be alert to the impact on the child of any concerns of abuse or maltreatment
  • be able to gather and analyse information as part of an assessment of the child’s needs.
1.2.8

Multi-agency training is crucial for enhancing collective awareness of local needs and available services for supporting children and young people. Practitioners across universal and specialist services must recognise and report signs of abuse and neglect, ensuring children receive necessary assistance. Continuous development of practitioners' knowledge and skills in identifying new threats like online abuse, grooming, sexual exploitation, and radicalisation is essential for effectiveness. Moreover, practitioners should deepen their understanding of domestic abuse, encompassing controlling and coercive behaviors, and its impact on children. To facilitate this, safeguarding partners should assess local training requirements and establish mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of commissioned training.

The effects of language used in safeguarding and child protection

1.2.9

Effective communication in safeguarding and child protection is crucial. Professionals must carefully consider the language they use and its potential impact on those involved.

Various agencies and professions use different terminology and acronyms to describe needs, leading to a complex landscape of communication. Failure to explain this terminology can result in professionals, individuals, and families feeling disempowered and excluded from the safeguarding process. This lack of understanding can hinder partnership working and ultimately impact outcomes and wellbeing.

 

Shared responsibility

1.2.10

All children have the right to be safeguarded from harm and exploitation whatever their:

  • Race, religion, first language or ethnicity;
  • Gender (including gender identity) or sexuality;
  • Age;
  • Health or disability;
  • Location or placement;
  • Any criminal behaviour;
  • Political or immigration status.

 Statements about, or allegations of abuse, or neglect made by children, must always be taken seriously.

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Effective safeguarding relies on the shared commitment and cooperation of all relevant agencies and individuals.

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The wishes and feelings of children are vital elements in assessing risk and formulating protection plans, and must always be sought and given weight according to the level of understanding of the child.

Principles Underpinning all Work to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of Children

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The safeguarding partners and all managers, employees, professionals, volunteers, carers, independent contractors and service providers must ensure that their practice reflects an approach which is:

Child-centered Approach: Professionals must prioritise the welfare of the child, ensuring they are seen, heard, and understood in decision-making processes.

Rooted in Child Development: Understanding the stages of child development is crucial for planning interventions that cater to the child's needs at every age.

Focused on Outcomes for Children: Plans and interventions should be tailored to address the unique needs of each child, aiming for outcomes aligned with key welfare objectives.

Holistic Approach: Assessment and intervention strategies should consider the broader context of the child's environment, including family dynamics and cultural factors.

Ensuring Equality of Opportunity: All children deserve equal access to opportunities for healthy development, regardless of background or circumstances.

Involvement of Children and Families: Collaborative relationships with children and their families facilitate understanding and trust, crucial for effective intervention.

Building on Strengths: Recognizing and leveraging the strengths within families is as important as addressing difficulties, ensuring a balanced approach to intervention.

Integrated Approach: Multi-agency collaboration should begin early to address additional needs beyond universal services, promoting comprehensive support for children.

Continuous Process: Safeguarding is an ongoing process that requires continuous assessment, intervention, and review to adapt to the child's evolving needs.

Providing and Reviewing Services: Services should be provided promptly based on identified needs, with regular reviews to assess their impact on the child's development.

Informed by Evidence: Professional judgments should be informed by evidence-based practices and ongoing evaluation to ensure effectiveness in safeguarding children and families.

Working in Partnership with Children and Families

1.2.14

Working Together to Safeguard Children, 2023 provides: In the context of a child-centred approach, all practitioners should work in partnership with parents and carers as far as possible. Parents and carers need to understand what is happening, what they can expect from the help and support provided, what is expected of them and be supported to say what they think. This is particularly important when there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm, whether the harm is from inside or outside the home including online.

1.2.15

Four principles underpin work with parents and carers

  1. Building Positive Relationships: Practitioners establish trust and cooperation by approaching families with empathy and respect, avoiding stigma, and identifying strengths to support positive change. They adapt their approach to address diverse needs and recognize signs of abuse or neglect without resorting to stereotypes.
  2. Clear and Inclusive Communication: Communication is respectful, clear, and inclusive, catering to the needs of parents and carers. Materials are age-appropriate, free of jargon, and accessible in multiple languages if necessary, with professional interpreters provided when needed.
  3. Empowering Decision-Making: Parents and carers are empowered to participate in decision-making processes. They are informed in advance about meeting attendees and formats, encouraged to bring support persons, provided with relevant information and access arrangements, and guided towards available local support services.
  4. Community Engagement and Feedback: Practitioners involve parents, carers, families, and communities in designing safeguarding processes, incorporating their insights and feedback into service improvement efforts continuously.

Cultural competency

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Culturally competent practice acknowledges and aims to understand the meaning of cultural identity within each individual’s and family’s lives. Cultural competence is being responsive to the beliefs, practices and cultural and linguistic needs of children and families.  It places children's wellbeing and protection within their cultural context and, by being culturally competent, practitioners can better identify which aspects of the family's difficulties are 'cultural', which are neglectful, and which are a combination of factors.

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'Knowledge and understanding of culture and faith is critical to effective assessments of harm through neglect and/or abuse. However, culture and faith should not be used as an excuse to abuse and must never take precedence over children's rights'  Safeguarding Children's Rights Special Initiative: Final Evaluation Report (Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust / University of East London Centre for Social Work Research, 2011)

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Where there is a cultural explanation given in relation to significant harm, The Children Act 1989 is clear that the welfare of the child is paramount and should remain the focus of any professional intervention. Whilst an understanding of cultural context is necessary, this should not get in the way of measures to protect the child from significant harm.

The following framework comprises six competencies for professionals, which seek to assist the professional to be clear about the risks from neglect and/or abuse to a child wellbeing Six competencies for effective safeguarding - cultural competency

Please also refer to Safeguarding children from Black, Asian and minoritised ethnic communities | NSPCC Learning

Please also see Safeguarding in faith communities | NSPCC Learning

Sussex Safeguarding Children’s Partnership Anti Racist Practice Statement

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Guiding Principles

There is no place for racism in Sussex.

We recognise that the impact racism has on our communities is devastating. It is our responsibility to create safe, inclusive and supporting environments and challenge racism when we see it. We stand firmly together with our partners in being committed to tackling institutional and interpersonal racism in all of its forms. We commit to listening, monitoring and continually evaluating our practice because we recognise that good anti-racist practice for the Partnership leads to better outcomes for our children in our county.

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Anti-racist practice seeks to identify where people are discriminated against because of race or membership of global majority communities, and to take active steps to address the systems, privileges and everyday practices that maintain this unequal treatment, whether they be intentional or unintentional.

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This statement seeks to set out the principles and actions we will adopt towards this aim. Anti-racist practice extends to how we work together as colleagues and professionals, as well as with families, children and young people.

We should speak up when professionals interact or behave in a way that is disrespectful or unacceptable, whether of families or of colleagues

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Anti-Racist working as a Safeguarding Children’s Partnership

  • Accept racism exists and affects many of us and our children.
  • Be aware of prejudices within ourselves, in others and in the services we provide.
  • Be aware of the potential for stereotyping and bias. Do not make assumptions about someone’s race, ethnicity and culture, based on presenting behaviour or what is recorded about them within assessments or reports.
  • Always consider the race, ethnicity and cultural needs of children, families and adults within our services and partnership activity.
  • To strive as apartenrship to deepen our understanding of both the structures of racism and the development of cultural competence and cultural humility.
  • Be aware that families from black and global majority communities will have lived experience of racism, which may impact on how they present. The cumulative impact of racism is trauma and can impact on people’s mental health, in terms of anxiety and depression.
  • Intersectionality: the different aspects of identity and their social implications can multiply inequalities and may further compound experiences of racism, discrimination, and oppression, in terms of being Black, male, unemployed, working class, poor health (including mental health), disabled, LGBTQ+ etc - particularly in terms of institutional and structural racism.
  • Research reveals there is an overrepresentation of black children in our care system, child protection systems, within school exclusions and within mental health and criminal justice services. We need to consider the cause, not just behaviours and plan appropriate support and challenge to services within the community.
  • Wherever possible, ensure that black African, Caribbean/Asian/Muslim fathers (and those from other minoritised communities) are included in assessments, decision making and as potential carers in their children’s lives - even if they are ‘non-resident’ (as they are not always absent).
  • Consider the Adultification of black children, whereby black boys and girls can be treated more like adults due to perceptions of them presenting as older or more confident than their white peers. Remember they are children first and foremost.
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Recognising & Challenging Racism

  • The Partnerships need to promote that a key part of anti-racist practice is ensuring you look at your beliefs and where they come from and to educate yourself about different cultural practices/traditions, customs and norms that may be unfamiliar to you e.g. Female Genital Mutilation,   Honour Based Abuse Forced Marriage of a child Abuse Linked to Spiritual and Religious Beliefs/Ritual Abuse | Sussex Child Protection and Safeguarding Procedures Manual and Breast Ironing. Be aware that these issues can impact on white communities too.
  • Consider diverse communities’ religion and cultural festivals, such as Ramadan, Eid, Chinese New Year, Yom Kippur, Diwali. Be mindful of families who may be fasting for Ramadan for instance, when arranging appointments.
  • Don’t just consider ‘cultural competence’, which relates to reading/researching about someone’s culture from a white privileged perspective, consider ‘cultural humility’ too, which focusses on continued learning about black communities, beliefs, norms, customs, faith, and traditions. This requires reflection on one’s own beliefs, values and biases and how this may impact on how we receive information and respect the culture and values of others, it encourages us to remain curious (links to YouTube video) and be mindful of White Privilege 
  • It is important to be responsible for calling out and challenging racism when we come across it. Whether amongst colleagues, employees, or families with whom we work with.
  • Microagressions are statements that put white people into a dominant position without being obviously hostile and are a ‘subtle’ form of racism, which people can use intentionally or unintentionally. These are to be avoided.
  • Being an ally to all in the partnership and the families with whom we work involves noticing microaggressions, discrimination, assumptions, stereotypes, oppression and racism and feeling confident enough to challenge it, in all its forms, in a nonconfrontational manner, by asking questions and making people aware that what they are saying or doing is discriminatory, offensive, or racist and why.
  • We need to be open to being challenged and to recognise in ourselves that this might be difficult and uncomfortable and be aware of possible defensiveness we may have about this.

Gender Identity and expression

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Gender identity is a way to describe whether someone feels most aligned with girl, boy, neither, both or without gender at all. Some children and young people are very clear on what their gender identity is and for others it may change over time through a period of exploration. These children may be trans, non-binary or gender exploring.

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When children experience discomfort or uncertainty about their gender identity this can have a detrimental impact on their physical and emotional health and wellbeing as can the prejudice, discrimination and misunderstanding they may be subject to by both children and adults.

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Safeguarding the mental & physical health of children and young people is paramount. Some trans, non-binary and gender exploring children and young people may be particularly vulnerable and require additional support.  Whilst being trans, non-binary or gender exploring would not generally, in isolation, necessitate safeguarding intervention, neither should it be a barrier to such intervention.

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See also - Gender identity | NSPCC

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Gender dysphoria

Gender dysphoria is characterised by an individual's distress or discomfort stemming from a misalignment between their gender identity and their biological sex. Manifesting from early stages of development, this experience may involve expressions like a reluctance to conform to traditional masculine or feminine attire. Furthermore, as individuals progress into adolescence, they may encounter heightened anxiety or discomfort regarding the physical changes associated with puberty, such as the onset of menstruation or the deepening of one's voice.

Children who are lesbian, gay, bi, or trans (LGBTQ+)

1.2.29

It is important to recognize that a child or young person identifying as LGBTQ+ is not inherently at risk of harm. However, individuals in this community can face targeted harassment or discrimination from both peers and adults. Moreover, even children perceived to be LGBTQ+ (regardless of their actual orientation) can be just as vulnerable as those who openly identify as LGBTQ+.

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This vulnerability can be exacerbated when LGBTQ+ children lack a trusted adult with whom they can confide. Therefore, it's crucial for professionals to actively work to mitigate these additional barriers and create safe spaces where LGBTQ+ children feel comfortable speaking out and sharing their concerns.

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By acknowledging and addressing these challenges, professionals can better support LGBTQ+ children and young people, ensuring they receive the care and assistance they need to thrive in their environments.

Six key practice themes to make a difference in reducing serious harm and preventing child deaths caused by abuse or neglect.

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The annual report from the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel (May 2021) highlights six key practice themes to make a difference in reducing serious harm and preventing child deaths caused by abuse or neglect. The annual report can be read here - Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 

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  1. Understanding what the child’s daily life is like
  2. Working with families where their engagement is reluctant and sporadic
  3. Critical thinking and challenge
  4. Responding to changing risk and need
  5. Sharing information in a timely and appropriate way
  6. Organisational leadership and culture for good outcomes

Case Recording Principles

1.2.34

Good quality case recording is essential in ensuring:

  • Continuity of service to children and families when staff are unavailable or change, or when a service resumes after a period of time;
  • Effective risk management practices to safeguard the well-being of children, especially in emergency situations;
  • Effective partnerships between staff, children, their families, their carers, other agencies and service providers;
  • Clarity of information for everyone involved in the planning and delivery of services, and in the event of investigations, inquiries, or audits;
  • Adequate information for staff and managers to ensure the best possible utilisation of available resources;
  • As a means by which to ensure accountability and adherence to procedures and statutory responsibilities;
  • Details of good quality observations of the child and care givers.
1.2.35

Recording the child’s story

  • This is the child or young person’s story of what happened and why.
  • Research shows that children’s voices are rarely or briefly reflected in their own records (The MIRRA (Memory – Identity – Rights in Records – Access) 2019).
  • It is important to capture the voice of the child in recording to reflect their feelings, experiences, wishes and perspectives.
  • For some children a written record will be the only resource they have to learn about their childhood and to understand decisions made with them and about them. l If a child wants to look at, read, and understand their record it should be easily understood, accessible and reflect their
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The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) case recording tips:

  1. Include the child throughout the recording
  2. Write records as if writing to the child or family members
  3. Make records purposeful and analytical
  4. Include memory objects (eg. photos) sensitively and critically
  5. Make sure records reflect the whole of the child’s story and why decisions were made
  6. Chart the child’s journey
  7. Include different views and opinions
  8. Make records easy to access
  9. Make sure recording is balanced and meaningful
  10. Avoid jargon and vague language, do not record every piece of communication

Sussex Statement of Recognition that care leavers have a right to their information

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Many older post-care adults are still unaware that they can access their childhood care files: 

“All Care Leavers and those who had been supported through Children’s Social Care have the right to fully access their childhood care files. Access to this information can have a positive impact on people’s lives. The value of these files, and the need for us to promote this right of access, is recognised by the Sussex Safeguarding Children Partnerships and we aim to offer all care leavers support and kindness in what can be a difficult and challenging process.”

This statement is also included in the Local Offer and in information explaining Access to Records.

Infographic for children and young people summarising UK government actions to protect children’s rights

This page is correct as printed on Friday 24th of May 2024 06:16:42 PM please refer back to this website (http://sussexchildprotection.procedures.org.uk) for updates.