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Recording Child Protection Issues


Helen
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We are reviewing our child protection documentation, and I'd like to find out what records anyone keeps. There seems to be a lack of consistent advice on this. On a recent course, we were discussing the fact that any records on children should be available to parents, unless there is a child protection issue but this isn't really clear-cut. What would any of you do if you suspect but don't have any concrete evidence? Do you put anything in writing at that point? Or do you speak to parents first and record something then? Or do you do something else entirely?

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The advice I remember being given was that we record concerrns before speaking to the parent only if we thought the childs safety could be compromised if we were to tell.

 

Any notes you make can be made available to the parents so long as you can justify why they werent informed at the outset. Thats always supposing the concerns turned out to be nothing.

If the concerns prove more concrete social services would decide what the parents were told I think.

 

But I think it's about common sense too, knowing your parents and families. I dont think a hard and fast rule would be suitable, I have known families over the years to whom pretty common swear words were used as an endearment. (this family is fairly guilty of that :o ) but the love and care and wish for a good life for the children couldnt be questioned.

 

If it isnt clear cut I suppose you do whats right for you along with something about why you would follow that proceedure. Very tricky area, good luck with it :D

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Oh, this is such a minefield, isn't it!

I remember once, many moons ago, having a Social Services annual inspection. We had recorded something a child had said, in case there were repeats, about dad hitting him. We knew the family well and child was very nonchalant, but we felt we ought to. 7 months (or so) later the (new to post, didn't last long) SS inspector found this and said we should have immediately reported this as a case of abuse. She wrote to Chair to say we should all be disciplined and said she would be following up with the school (child had left by then). Chair (a social worker!) was disgusted at this and binned it (after telling me), as she felt this kind of knee jerk reaction was counter productive. Nothing happened at all in the case and child is now a very pleasant teenager.

 

Not relevant really, but, as I said, it's a minefield - all we were doing was covering points 'in case'!

 

Sue

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I always understood that the book in which we recorded any child protection observations and concerns was confidential to the staff team, I don't think I would consider sharing it with a parent - but you've got me thinking now!

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Sharing with a parent in the right circumstances can clarify things. You might have a concern bought about by something overheard or told to you. A parent may be unaware of their child being in a situation where it could have happened. A babysitter may have been indiscrete or watched an unsuitable movie. Something could have been overheard or seen while the parents thought little Johnny was tucked up in bed, I know I used to sneak downstairs at night. It all depends on the circumstances and like I said if we know our families well we should be in a position to talk to them. I would hate to think there was a file somewere with my name and that of my children in it, hidden away without any chance for me to clear things up. :)

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I agree with Rea, I try my hardest to have an open relationship with parents, to be able to discuss everything about THEIR child. It is through this openness that we get to know each other, the families and often how different a childs life is at home compared to preschool.

 

I have what is called an incident sheet in the back of each childs folder, any comments, concerns, etc are discussed with parent and then as the discussion finishes I note it down with the parent, including their comments, checking their understanding of what I have said and checking my interpretation of what they have said, and then we both sign and date it. :D So nothing is written behind their back, so to speak.

 

Disclosures are dealt with as others have mentioned, childs safety as paramount.

 

Peggy

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Its such a difficult and horrid area but I think you can get advice from your ACPC team. Clearly you think you may have something and I think you ought to go along with your gut feeling and find out what your local team would recommend you do. I think you can speak to them with regard to these things = getting it wrong is not an option - I know if I had a concern but there was nothing really very concrete that I could factually write down but I still felt uncomfortable then I wold certainly want to speak to someone to clarify what to do and how to approach it.

Say you had written down something as part of a regular observation what would you do - would you talk to the parent immediately recording what the parent and child had said or would you leave it. Not very helpful but I would want to seek calrification from those who might (but hopefully not) have to deal with this.

Nikki

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I agree it is very much down to circumstances and for the situations Rea describes we would speak to the parents but I am afraid there are much more serious circumstances where it would be irresponsible to speak to parents. My nightmare scenario is when a child and family actually disappear after the child discloses things that caused concern. It is a minefield and the child's welfare must come first.

Edited by Marion
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You're so right Marion - the safety of the child is paramount - that is the phrasethat should guide us and that we need to keep at the forefront of our minds in every single individual circumstance involving this issue.

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