What is safeguarding?

To safeguard means to care for, protect and prevent the maltreatment and impairment of children’s healthy development. By safeguarding children a Nanny ensures that the children cared for, are being allowed to grow and develop in a safe and happy environment with effective and protective care at the core of the childcare service being providing. The government has put safeguarding legislation and guidance into place to support those working with and caring for children.

Children being cared for, regardless of their age, ethnic origin, religious beliefs or gender have the right to be kept safe from harm and protected from the risks of being hurt, neglected or abused. By upholding the government guidance on safeguarding, Nannies can actively work to ensure the best possible outcomes for the children being cared for. The same safeguarding legislation applies to all individuals who come into contact with children through work or voluntary roles, as it is everyone’s responsibility to promote the health and welfare of children and families.

The role of the Nanny in safeguarding

It is a Nannies responsibility to ensure that she/he is up to date on the current safeguarding legislation in order to provide a professional service.

It is the Nanny’s responsibility to ensure that safeguarding is an integral part of the role by carrying out a thorough risk assessment of the workplace. Steps can then be taken based on the level of risk associated with the job to make sure that all aspects are carefully considered and safeguards are put in place to ensure the maximum level of safety for all concerned.

By working in partnership with the parents of the children being cared for, Nannies are better able to build a good, transparent and understanding relationship, where together, the children are kept safe from harm through a joined-up approach. This sort of relationship will also make it easier to discuss safeguarding issues with the parents should the need arise.

In addition to issues such as neglect and abuse, it is equally important to carry out a risk assessment that is appropriate for the ages of the children being cared for. Safeguarding is not only about ensuring that the children being looked after by the Nanny are kept safe from abuse, it is equally important to consider general health and safety in the home and to be prepared for any issues that could pose risks during outings. Consider the following:

Environmental safety: how best to prevent accidents and injury?

Medication or harmful substances: are such items safely stored away out of reach?

Supervision: depending on age, is it possible to safely supervise children at all times?

Child protection: be aware of other individuals coming into contact with the children, this can include parents, friends, family members, teachers and others

Health and wellbeing: ensuring that the children’s social and emotional needs are met means that the Nanny is not neglecting their basic right to that level of care. Healthy meals and daily exercise are also part of ensuring the children’s health and wellbeing

Behaviour management: making sure that the children are behaving in a way that is safe and does not cause harm to themselves or others. Working in partnership with parents to agree how to manage discipline, will help to create a safe working environment with clear boundaries

Disclosure: Have a clear understanding of how to report safeguarding issues if there is a need to do so

Nannies are the designated safeguarding professional within the home setting. This is a huge responsibility, particularly as Nannies tend to work in isolation, away from the support that is available in a more supported setting such as a nursery or childminding setting shared with colleagues.

Safeguarding courses are designed to prepare and educate Nannies on safeguarding issues by instilling confidence through knowledge. Appropriate, well-delivered training will enable Nannies to understand their role as a safeguarding professional and the responsibilities of caring for children.

Where to find out more about Safeguarding and the current legislation

The latest government guidance is titled Working together to safeguard children: 2013. There is clear safeguarding legislation stating that those who work with children, have to keep them safe. You can find out more about this by reading The Children Act (1989) and (2004). The UK is also a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child, and informative source of information for those caring for children.

Child protection legislation in the UK is made up of a complex system of laws and guidelines. There is no single piece of legislation covering child protection and the existing laws and guidance are also subject to change. Local Authorities have a duty to investigate any reports where they have reasonable cause to believe that there is a safeguarding issue.

A career as a Nanny can be both challenging and rewarding. There are many advantages to working with children and seeing them progress on their journey from one stage of childhood to the next. However, it is the Nanny’s responsibility to ensure that she/he is educated on how to safeguard and promote the health and well-being of the children being cared for.

The Government has published a very useful guide on what steps to take if there are concerns that a child is being abused or is at risk of significant harm. It examines the various steps that can be taken in order to report concerns and what will happen once a report has been made. For further information, read the Government document “What to do if you’re worried a child is being abused”.

What is a DBS check?

Those wishing to work with children in roles that involve supervising, caring for or being in sole charge of children, will need to apply for an enhanced DBS check. The DBS check carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service, now replaces the CRB checks previously carried out by the Criminal Records Bureau and Independent Safeguarding Authority.

As employers, parents want to make sound recruitment decisions when hiring a Nanny to care for their children. The DBS check is just one step that parents can take to ensure that the Nanny they are looking to hire is suitable as a carer for their children. Those who are unsuitable to work with children and vulnerable groups will be prevented from doing so if they are listed on the DBS register. For further information, please visit the Disclosure and Barring Service website.

Useful links

Worried about a child’s safety

Online safety

Safeguarding training