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Tricky Situation


westie
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Hi, I think I know the answer to this one, but would value your views just to confirm!

 

One of my members of staff was approached by the headteacher of the school that we run breakfast club at. The head said that she would be sending a child to us for breakfast club and that she would deal with all payment and we did not need to liaise with mum.

 

She is due to come and speak to me about it today but basically this child is being dropped off to school very early, it is believed without having had any breakfast.

 

So i think she is asking us to take this child so they are not hanging around before the start of school.

 

I am not actually prepared to do this if the parents are not aware we are looking after their child. Furthermore mum will not have filled in a registration form, we will not know anything about the child in terms of many medical needs etc.

 

I suspect the head will offer this information to us, but it would not be directly from the parent.

 

As well as being legally wrong, i feel this would be quite immoral too, I actually feel its very dishonest!

 

I would value your thoughts on this....

 

Thanks

 

Jo

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oh gosh, it is a bit of a dilemma! I see what you mean about being 'dishonest',and of course you can't just go taking children in off the street( though in the 'old days', that's exactly what would have happened!) but if the aim is for the child to be safe and looked after properly, including being fed,I can see why the Head teacher is trying to help. I do think the head should speak to the parents first and tell them that she is proposing to ask you about a place in your breakfast club, but that she needs the parents permission to do this, as well as permission to pass on the childs personal details.She could tactfully say its an 'activity club', if the parent is likely to be offended? Rock and a hard place springs to mind though.....................if the parent says no, then you're all back to square one, and if the child comes to any harm because s/he isn't being looked after properly, you'll no doubt all feel guilty, even though it's not your fault. However, I do think you're lucky to have a head who cares enough to try to solve the problem, I know of some who wouldn't take the trouble! I hope the head speaks to parent, who then agrees to the placement. This childs safety is the priority

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I know of two Heads who have made similar arrangements (and met the cost from school funds) for children "in need"

 

I agree it is tricky but when the facilities are available on site I would imagine it's hard to turn the child away! If the Head is approaching the situation from a "safeguarding" view perhaps the arrangements are different? As Susan says, it's being done in the child's best interests.

 

Nona

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Guest jenpercy

We have had the school pay for children before as they have intervention budgets. It may well be that Head is proposing to deal with Mum for you as she is flaky, but she is proposing to tell Mum. Why should Mum say no, if she is getting something for free. Then again, I know that abusive and /or neglectful Mums can be very obstinate.

 

My first priority would be the welfare of the child. This child is probably coming to school alone, so you wouldn't see mum in the mornings. (she may well be still in bed), and therefore, the Head will have to do the necessary as she could resent (bin) any direct communication from you.

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I think you need to speak to the HT about this as there may be more to this than meets the eye, such a a CP issue the HT is dealing with. She is obviously concerned about this child and sees you as a safe refuge. The HT should really have spoken to you in the first place,rather than a member of your staff so I would approach her now, as you will have the duty of care for the child while she is with you.

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Guest jenpercy

there is also the possibility that this is serious enough to go to Social Services. Our child was turning up at school hungry, and eventually taken into care, following further revelations.

 

we were initially approached by the school when the child already wasn't living with Mum. Getting permission slips & registration slips signed HAS been difficult, but we are now one of the cornerstones of his chaotic little life.

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I'm hearing what everyone is saying about putting the child's welfare first and so on, and clearly there are concerns about this child's welfare. I'm thinking about policy and procedure though.

 

If your suspicions about the head teacher providing registration information about this child and not consulting mum are correct, you face the prospect of having a child in your setting without having a signed parental permission form covering the various aspects of the service you provide. What will happen if the child has an accident whislt in your care? Who will sign the accident form? Or if the child was sick and needed to go home - who would you ring? If the child had an accident and needed to go to hospital who would you call to collect the child or to tell them you'd gone to the hospital?

 

I would also have a problem with the way the head has gone about things - it doesn't seem very professional for her to have spoken to a member of your staff about the welfare of a child who has no connection with your setting.

 

Even parents who some professionals view as 'obstinate' or 'flaky' have rights to be involved when decisions are made about their child's education and care. My reaction would be, in the absence of direction from Social Care to the contrary, that I would require full documentation completed by and in consultation with mum before the child joins my setting.

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I agree completely with HappyMaz. At the end of the day we are all running professional organisations and as such we must adhere both to staturory guidelines and our own organisational standards.

 

It is not for the HT to bypass the system and override parental involvement.

 

A different situation I know, but we've had the odd occassion when the school has had an uncollected child and has tried to 'dump' them on to the OSC club. I've made it perfectly clear that we wouldn't entertain taking a child who is not a registered member and even if they are then we would need the school to contact the parent and ask them to give us authorisation to take the child.

 

Please do not leave yourself open to any future problems with either the parents or the authorities.

Edited by Guest
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Maybe the family could be CAF'd and it be proposed that as part of the child in need plan, the chid attends breakfast club? Don't know the situation obviously, but if a child is regularly arriving at school early and hungry, isn't this an issue of neglect?

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I agree with what everyone has said. You need to make sure you have all the correct paperwork in place for the child, if not, you will need to look at how you can manage this with the HT so that you are not compromising your situation. However, this situation unfortunately is quite common and I think the HT is acting in the best interests of the child - there well may be other things going on which she may or may not share with you depending on what it is. If you keep to your policies and procedures then there can be no cause for concern.

Nikki

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Maybe the family could be CAF'd and it be proposed that as part of the child in need plan

The CAF would only be appropriate if the child has additional needs that require interventions/support from multiple agencies - if neglect is involved that is a safeguarding issue which isn't covered by a CAF.

 

Maz

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However, this situation unfortunately is quite common and I think the HT is acting in the best interests of the child - there well may be other things going on which she may or may not share with you depending on what it is.

 

 

I agree. I think the issue here is the welfare of the child. Sadly many children remain with parents long after they should have been removed and sometimes the only thing we can do is keep making sure we do what is best for the child. Talk to the head about what is going on with mum, it may be that getting permission is impossible, or it may be that permission has been given. Either way I don't think I could sit by and watch a child go hungry, although of course it leaves you in a difficult situation with regards to your procedures and if something should happen.

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This is an interesting discussion but I think I would wait and see what the HT has to say rather than jumping to any conclusions in the meantime as, re-reading the original post, she is coming to speak about this child today. Hopefully this will then be resolved.

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