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Safeguarding and welfare within the Early years foundation stage

Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is everyone’s responsibility. Everyone who comes in to contact with children has a role to play. Nothing is more important than children’s welfare. You are in a position to identify concerns early. Children who need help and protection deserve high quality and effective support as soon as a need is identified.

If it is an emergency and you think that a child may be in immediate danger, please contact the emergency services directly by calling 999.

If there is no immediate danger, you should establish the level of need and risk before you take action. Thresholds Guidance will help you to do this and can be found on the Northamptonshire Children's Trust website using the report a concern link below.

If you believe your concern meets the threshold for statutory intervention, you should report a concern via the online referral process on the Northamptonshire Children’s Trust website.

If your concern does not meet the threshold for statutory intervention, you should consider if the child and their family could benefit from early help. Early help means providing support as soon as a problem emerges, at any point in a child’s life. Providing early help is more effective in promoting the welfare of children than reacting later. The Early Help Assessment is a simple way to help identify needs of children and families and make a plan to meet those needs. Find out more about Early Help advice for professionals - Help and protection for children.

You should report all cases in which it is alleged that any person who works with children has:

  • behaved in a way that has harmed, or may have harmed, a child
  • possibly committed a criminal offence against children, or related to a child
  • behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates they may pose a risk of harm to children, for example if their conduct falls within any of these categories of abuse: physical, emotional, sexual, neglect

Links to Local Safeguarding Partners (LSP)

Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children Partnership (NSCP) has local procedures, safeguarding toolkits, training and documents for you to access keep your knowledge up to date.

Northamptonshire Children’s Trust are a not-for-profit company established in November 2020 to deliver the best possible opportunities for the children in Northamptonshire. They hold the responsibility to deliver children’s social care and targeted early help services on behalf of West Northamptonshire Council and North Northamptonshire Council.

Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage safeguarding responsibilities

As an early years provider, you must take all necessary steps to keep children healthy, safe and secure.

Your key safeguarding responsibilities as a childcare provider are:

  • safeguarding children
  • ensuring the suitability of adults who have contact with children
  • promoting good health
  • managing behaviour
  • maintaining records, policies and procedures

Find out more about the Early years foundation stage (Gov.uk) (EYFS) safeguarding and welfare requirements.

Your legal duties

The EYFS is mandatory for all early years providers under the Childcare Act 2006. It is your responsibility to meet the requirements in full. You must have regard to government statutory guidance:

You must be aware of your responsibilities under the Data Protection Legislation and where relevant the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

This includes the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) and General Data Protection Regulation 2018. The DPA gives parents and carers the right to access information about their child that you hold. It is essential that you have an understanding of how data protection laws operate. This guide explains the General Data Protection Regulation (Gov.uk) to help organisations comply with its requirements. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the UK's independent body set up to uphold information rights. Further guidance can be found on the Information Commissioner’s Office website

We have produced a Safeguarding and welfare audit that will help you to check and feel confident you are fully meeting each of the requirements in Section 3 of the EYFS. To request a copy, please email [email protected].

Safe recruitment is central to the safeguarding of children and young people. All organisations which employ staff or volunteers to work with children and young people have a duty to safeguard and promote their welfare. This includes ensuring that you adopt safe recruitment and selection procedures which prevent unsuitable persons from gaining access to children. All those involved in recruitment and selection of staff, including managers, leaders and HR professionals, should access safer recruitment and selection training.

Use our good practice safer recruitment checklist to assist you with selecting and recruiting staff in a safe way:

The online world brings many positives and possibilities, but it’s also full of risks – and it’s constantly changing. You play an essential role in helping young children learn the foundations of safe online behaviour. Even if children don’t have access to technology within your setting, they may be using it at home, with their friends or in other public spaces. Role modelling safe use of the internet should become part of our everyday practice.

Online safety is also highlighted within the Early Years Foundation Stage and the Early Years Inspection Handbook for Ofsted-registered provision (Gov.uk).

Useful websites to support you to keep children safe online

To support early years settings, the UKCIS Education Working Group has developed two documents to help early years settings managers and staff consider their practice and to take steps to safeguard both children and adults online.

Safeguarding Children and Protecting Professionals in Early Years Settings: Online Safety Considerations for Managers will help managers of early years settings (including wrap around care for the early years age group) ensure that their online safeguarding practice is in line with statutory requirements and suggested best practice. It explores the current statutory guidance in the form of a checklist with key questions to help early years managers reflect and evidence their existing practice. The guidance highlights a range of resources which can be used to support early years settings to develop a whole setting approach towards online safety in line with national guidance.

Safeguarding Children and Protecting Professionals in Early Years Settings: Online Safety Guidance for Practitioners is a resource for staff working in early years settings to help them understand their role in promoting the online safety and wellbeing of children in their care, as well as enabling them to consider their own professional practice. The guidance highlights resources which can be used by practitioners to safeguard children, parents and themselves as professionals online. The document can be read by staff independently as part of developing their own safeguarding knowledge and understanding. It could also be used by managers as part of staff induction or to stimulate a discussion with staff regarding their settings online safety policy and procedures.

Thinkuknow is the education programme from the National Crime Agency - Child Exploitation and Online Protection, a UK organisation for advice about staying safe online when using a phone, tablet or computer.

The National Cyber Security Centre's advice for Early Years practitioners: using cyber security to protect your settings explains how you can protect sensitive information about your setting and the children in your care from accidental damage and online criminals.

Online safety resources are available from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children to help you keep every child safe online.

You must have regard to the government’s statutory Prevent duty guidance (Gov.uk). The 2015 Counter Terrorism and Security Act places a duty on early years providers “to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”.

The Action Counters Terrorism Act Early website is a useful source of information around radicalisation concerns.

It is important that you:

  • make sure that you have training that gives you the knowledge and confidence to identify children at risk of being drawn into terrorism
  • challenge extremist ideas
  • build children’s resilience to extremist influences
  • know what to do if you have concerns about a child

If you have a concern where you think a child is at risk of extremism

The risk of vulnerable people being drawn into terrorism is still very much present within our society. Intervention plays a key part in reducing that risk at an early stage. You can make a referral into Prevent regarding someone you are worried about, using the link to the Northants Police online referral form.

Or report a concern:

Opening times: Monday to Friday from 11am to 3pm (excluding bank holidays).

You must notify Ofsted of any serious accident, illness or injury to, or death of, any child whilst in your care, and of the action you have taken. You can refer to the guidance Childcare: reporting children’s accidents and injuries (Gov.uk) to find out what type of accident, injury or illness you must notify Ofsted of. Failure to comply with this requirement means you will be committing an offence.

You must Report a serious childcare incident (Gov.uk) by submitting an online report within 14 days, including confirmed cases of COVID-19.

You must also notify follow local safeguarding partners of any serious accident or injury to, or the death of, any child while in their care, and must act on any advice from those agencies.

You must put in place a written procedure for dealing with concerns and complaints and must keep a written record of any complaints and their outcome. You must investigate each complaint and notify the complainant of the outcome within 28 days. Record of complaints must be made available to Ofsted upon request.

You must make available to parents and or carers details of how to contact Ofsted. You can download Ofsted's role in regulating childcare: poster for parents (Gov.uk) to display in your provision.

All professionals working with children play an essential role in identifying privately fostered children. Although most children in private fostering situations are likely to be safe, in some private fostering arrangements there are clear safeguarding issues and children and young people effectively have no one who is concerned for their safety or welfare.

What is a private fostering arrangement? 

A private foster carer is someone other than a parent or a close relative who cares for a child for a period of 28 days or more, in agreement with the child's parent. It applies only to children under 16 years, or under 18 if they are disabled. A private fostering arrangement is not a when a child is Looked After by the Local Authority or placed in any residential home, hospital or school.

Who may be privately fostered? 

This indicates a sample scale and variety of situations and agencies these arrangements can cover but is not exhaustive:

  • children whose parents are unable to care for them, for example if they have chronic ill health or are in prison
  • children sent to this country, for education or health care, by parents who live overseas
  • a child living with a friend’s family because they don’t get on with their own family
  • children living with a friend’s family because of their parents’ study or work
  • children staying with another family because their parents have separated or divorced
  • unaccompanied asylum seeking minors who are living with friends, relatives or strangers.

What to do if you are aware of a private fostering arrangement

As a professional it is important for you to report a concern via the online referral process on the Northamptonshire Children’s Trust website. This will help protect the child against abuse or neglect and provide some reassurance that the child is being looked after properly. You should ensure this is a procedure within your Child Protection policy that is followed. 

Visit the Northamptonshire Children's Trust to find out more information on private fostering arrangements.

Why information is on a different website
We are in the process of adding information to this new unitary council website. Some pages will give you a link back to a previous council website to help you find what you need. Read more about the council changes.

Last updated 17 May 2022