The government has published voluntary guidance to support providers of activities to children and young people. This includes after school clubs, private tuition, community activities and church based youth and children’s work.
Keeping Children Safe follows a consultation in 2018 and the earlier abandonment by the government to bring in statutory regulation of out-of-school settings.
Christian Safeguarding Services (CSS) welcomed the publication of the guidance as setting out specific and proportionate guidance for churches and other faith-based organisations.
The guidance, alongside supplementary documents including specific guidance for the faith sector and for parents, establishes minimum standards for any group that provides activities for children and young people outside of registered schools, colleges or nurseries. This equips and encourages parents to look much more carefully at the quality of care provided in the activities their children attend.
This significant new guidance recognises the need to change the culture of safeguarding in the light of significant past failings, more than simply change policies and processes.
Paul Harrison of CSS said:
“This is the first time that the Government have consolidated all the various legislation and best practice that affects churches and faith based organisations and this document will become a significant reference point for those seeking to keep children safe. We welcome the publications of these documents and encourage churches to use them to review their policies, practices, but most importantly, the culture of safeguarding in their organisation.”
The guidance is not specifically aimed at faith groups, it covers all community related activities, it is helpful to churches in that it is specifically aimed at organisations working in the community rather than being aimed at public sector services and requiring churches to adapt the guidance to our context.
Many churches and other faith-based organisations will already be meeting these minimum standards of safeguarding, however, this is likely to become a key resource alongside Working together to safeguard children for churches.
Harrison went on to say:
“Churches need to understand and act upon these recommendations. Most of us will want to go far beyond the bare minimum, but understanding this guidance is crucial for church leaders, safeguarding officers and those working with children and young people.
“In order to help churches and faith-based organisations, Christian Safeguarding Services have tailored the content of the guidance to enable providers to go above and beyond in this important area.”