Introduction: Building a safe Family Day Care community.
As part of its 2013 inquiry into the handling of child abuse, the Victorian Government mandated organisations working with children adhere to a series of standards to promote child safety, prevent child abuse and properly respond to allegations.
Schools and Early Childhood Education and Care services, of which Family Day Care is one, have been provided with 7 standards which must be in place in all services, to help to promote healthy, safe and respectful communities.
At Foundations Family Day Care, we recognise the importance of the partnership between services and parents to support student learning, engagement and well-being. We share a commitment to, and a responsibility for, ensuring inclusive, safe and orderly environments for children and young people.
Our Statement of Values sets out our behavioural expectations of all members in this service community, including the Directors, all staff, Educators, parents, guardians, children in care and visitors. It respects the diversity of individuals in our service and addresses the shared responsibilities of all members in building safe and respectful communities. Discrimination, sexual and other forms of harassment, bullying, violence, aggression and threatening behaviour are unacceptable and will not be tolerated in this service.
Our Statement of Values acknowledges that parents, Educators and service staff are strongly motivated to do their best for every child. Everyone has the right to differing opinions and views and to raise concerns, provided we do this respectfully as a community working together.
The Seven Standards are:
- Strategies to embed an organisational culture of child safety
- A child safety policy or statement of commitment to child safety
- A code of conduct that establishes clear expectations for appropriate behaviour with children
- Screening, supervisions, training and other human resources practices that reduce the risk of child abuse by new and existing personnel
- Process for responding to and reporting, suspected child abuse
- Strategies to identify and reduce or remove risk of abuse
- Strategies to promote the participation and empowerment of children
Statement of commitment to child safety
Foundations Family Day Care is committed to the safety and well-being of all children and young people. This will be the primary focus of our care and decision-making. Foundations Family Day Care has zero tolerance for any abuse, including child abuse, domestic violence or abusive behaviours in the care environment. Foundations Family Day Care is committed to providing a child safe environment where adults, children and young people feel safe, are safe and their voices are heard about decisions that affect their lives. Particular attention will be paid to the cultural safety of Aboriginal children and children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds, as well as the safety of children with a disability. Every person involved in Foundations Family Day Care has a responsibility to understand the important and specific role he/she plays individually and collectively to ensure that the wellbeing and safety of all children and young people is at the forefront of all they do and every decision they make. In its planning, decision-making and operations, Foundations Family Day Care will:
- Take a preventative, proactive and participatory approach to child safety;
- Value and empower children to participate in decisions which affect their lives;
- Foster a culture of openness that supports all persons to safely disclose risks of any harm to children;
- Respect diversity in cultures and child rearing practices while keeping child safety paramount;
- Provide written guidance on appropriate conduct and behaviour towards children;
- Engage only the most suitable people to work with children and have high quality staff and volunteer supervision and professional development;
- Ensure children know who to talk with if they are worried or are feeling unsafe, and that they are comfortable and encouraged to raise such issues;
- Report suspected abuse, neglect or mistreatment promptly to the appropriate authorities;
- Share information appropriately and lawfully with other organisations where the safety and wellbeing of children is at risk; and
- Value the input of and communicate regularly with families and guardians.
This document should be read in conjunction with policy H&S 12 – Providing a Child Safe Environment.
What is child abuse?
As an organisation, Foundations Family Day Care commits to doing all we can to prevent child abuse, both whilst children are in our care and in their home environments, and to act promptly in the event any form of child abuse is suspected.
Child abuse comes in numerous forms:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Family violence (including both the event and the aftermath, regardless of whether the child was directly harmed or witnessed the abuse)
The effects of abuse are ongoing, affecting a child throughout their childhood and into their adult life: There have been a number of more recent studies showing the effects of abuse can even affect the grandchildren of a person abused as a child.
If we as individuals and as a community do all we can to prevent abuse and to act promptly and appropriately if we suspect abuse may be occurring, we can minimise the potential outcomes for that child and maximise their likelihood of regaining a healthy, functioning environment in which to grow and learn. We will link families to appropriate support services, including counselling and legal services, as soon as practicable.
Statement of Values
Promoting Healthy, Safe and Respectful Communities
Foundations Family Day Care recognises the importance of the partnerships between our service, other services and families to support children’s learning, development and wellbeing. We share a commitment to, and a responsibility for, ensuring inclusive, safe and orderly environments for children and young people. This Statement of Values sets out our behavioural expectations of all members in this service community, including the Directors, all service staff, Educators, parents, guardians, children and visitors. It respects the diversity of individuals in our community and addresses the shared responsibilities of all members in building safe and respectful communities. Discrimination, sexual and other forms of harassment, bullying, violence, aggression and threatening behaviour are unacceptable and will not be tolerated in this service. Our Statement of Values acknowledges that families, Educators and service staff are strongly motivated to do their best for every child. Everyone has the right to differing opinions and views and to raise concerns, provided we do this respectfully as a community working together.
All adult members of our community, including staff, Educators and family members, have a legal obligation to report any mistreatment of a child, including abuse. Remember this saying: If in doubt, report. If in no doubt, definitely report. It is also important that everyone be aware that it is now a legal offense if any adult fails to protect children by reporting any suspected abuse, regardless of their position within the service.
As Directors, we will:
- Work collaboratively to create a service environment where respectful and safe conduct is expected of everyone;
- Behave in a manner consistent with the standards of our profession and meet core responsibilities to provide inclusive, safe and orderly environments;
- Plan, implement and monitor arrangements to ensure the care, safety, security and general wellbeing of all children in attendance at the service is protected;
- Identify and support children who are or may be at risk;
- Do our best to ensure every child achieves their development and learning potential;
- Work with parents and guardians to understand their child’s needs and, where necessary, adapt the care and learning environment accordingly;
- Respond appropriately when inclusive, safe or orderly behaviour is not demonstrated and implement appropriate interventions and sanctions when required;
- Make the service’s communication and complaints procedures known to parents and guardians;
- Ask any person who is acting in an offensive or disorderly way to leave any service locations, or support our Educators to do the same;
- Comply with and ensure all within our service comply with policy number H&S 12 – Providing a Child Safe Environment;
- Encourage positive relationships between Educators and families, so families feel supported enough to share information which may enable us to offer more individual support.
As staff and Educators, we will:
- Attend regular training to improve our knowledge and understanding of Child Protection and our responsibilities to children in this area;
- Model positive behaviour to children, consistent with the standards of our profession;
- Proactively engage with families about children’s outcomes;
- Work with parents to understand the needs of each child and, where necessary, adapt the care and learning environment accordingly;
- Work collaboratively with families to improve learning, development and wellbeing outcomes for children with additional needs, including those from indigenous or other cultural/linguistically diverse backgrounds and children with disabilities;
- Communicate with the Directors or staff in the event we anticipate or face any tension or challenging behaviours from parents, or we have any suspicion child abuse may be likely or has occurred;
- Try our utmost to develop supportive relationships with our families and children, so families feel supported enough to share information which may enable us to offer more individual support;
- Support all children in developing their positive behaviours and learning their own role in these Standards;
- Comply with and ensure all within our service comply with policy number H&S 12 – Providing a Child Safe Environment;
- Treat all members of the service community with respect.
As parents, we will:
- Model positive behaviour to our child, including at the service, in other public places and in our own home;
- Ensure our child is in appropriate health prior to bringing them into care;
- Take an interest in our child’s development and learning;
- Work with the service to achieve the best outcomes for our child;
- Communicate constructively with the service and use expected processes and protocols when raising concerns;
- Support service staff to maintain a safe learning environment for all children;
- Follow the service’s complaints processes if there are complaints;
- Comply with policy number H&S 12 – Providing a Child Safe Environment;
- Treat all Directors, Educators, staff, children, and other members of the service community with respect.
As children, we will learn to and do our best to:
- Behave positively toward ourselves and other children;
- Comply with and model service values demonstrated by our educator;
- Behave in a safe and responsible manner;
- Respect ourselves, other members of the service community and the service environment.
As community members, we will:
- Model positive behaviour to the community;
- Treat other members of the service community with respect;
- Support the Director, staff and Educators to maintain a safe and orderly learning environment for all children;
- Utilise the service’s communications policy to communicate with the service.
Consequences for failing to uphold the statement of values/unreasonable behaviours
Behaviours that are considered inappropriate on and adjacent to service grounds, including each Educator’s residence and the service office, or in relation to service business and that do not uphold the principles of this Statement of Values include when a person:
- Is rude, aggressive or harasses others;
- Physically, mentally, socially or sexually intimidates or acts against another person;
- Sends rude, confronting or threatening letters, emails or text messages;
- Is manipulative or threatening;
- Speaks in an aggressive tone, either in person or over the telephone;
- Makes sexist, racist or derogatory comments;
- Inappropriately uses social media as a forum to raise concerns/make complaints against the service.
The Directors are responsible for determining what constitutes reasonable and unreasonable behaviour. Unreasonable behaviour and/or failure to uphold the principles of this Statement of Values may lead to further investigation and the implementation of appropriate consequences. This may include:
- Utilising mediation and counselling services;
- Alternative communication strategies being applied;
- Formal notice preventing entry onto service premises or attendance at service; activities. Written notice will follow any verbal notice given;
- An intervention order being sought; and/or
- Informing the police
By agreeing to meet specified standards of positive behaviour, everyone in our service community can be assured that they will be treated with fairness and respect. In turn, this will help to create a service that is safe and orderly, where everyone is empowered to participate and learn.