Child Protection Policy

Child protection and safeguarding statement

We, Home from Home Student Services, London Homestays, believe that safeguarding the welfare of children and vulnerable adults staying in our accommodation is of paramount importance. We are committed to ensuring that every child, regardless of age or nationality, at all times and in all situations feels safe and protected from any situation or practice that results in physical or psychological damage including but not limited to any kind of neglect, non-accidental physical injury, sexual exploitation or emotional ill-treatment. Home from Home Student Services, London Homestays make the following commitments:

  • A senior member of staff will be employed as a Safeguarding Officer and as a company we will provide all staff with appropriate training in safeguarding children, which will be regularly updated.
  • The Safeguarding Officer will share all information, including complaints and concerns with the LSCB or LADO when appropriate and necessary.
  • Treat all students with care and respect according to their needs and without discrimination of any kind.
  • Be alert to the medical needs of students with medical conditions.
  • Any person, whose services are no longer used because he or she is considered unsuitable to work with children, will be reported to relevant authorities and/or child protection agencies.
  • We will safeguard the welfare of students through positive measures to address bullying, especially where this is aggravated by sexual or racist factors, or disability or special education needs.
  • All members of staff will be aware of who the Safeguarding Officer is and their role.
  • All members of staff will be aware of our child protection procedures.
  • An annual review will be undertaken by the Company Directors of the Company’s child protection and safeguarding policies and procedures.
  • Any deficiencies or weaknesses which are identified in the child protection and safeguarding arrangements are remedied without delay.
  • Students will be given the opportunity to provide feedback on their stay.

Before students under the age of 18 are placed in homestay accommodation, the prospective host (main carer):

  • Will be DBS checked and required to sign a declaration that they and other adults in the home are not unfit to be in contact with such students.
  • Will have an initial inspection and subsequent re-inspections of their home. During this inspection the host will be home and will meet with the inspector.

Policy for Safe Recruitment of Staff and Homestay Hosts

London Homestays is committed to safe recruitment and will ensure the following safe recruitment practices are always followed. Any host (main care giver) accommodating students aged under 18 will:

  • Hold valid (issued within the last 3 years) DBS or CRB disclosure.
  • Provide at least 2 references that attest to their suitability to have responsibility for, or substantial access to, persons under 18. Reference requests will ask specifically whether there is any reason that they should not be engaged in situations where they have responsibility for, or substantial access to, persons under 18 and written references will be followed by a telephone call.
  • Provide photographic proof of identification e.g. passport or driving licence.
  • Provide confirmation that they have read and understood London Homestays’ Child Protection Policy.
  • Be aware of student curfews and inform London Homestays if curfews are not being adhered to.
  • Employees of London Homestays are also subject to our safer recruitment policies and therefore may also be asked to undertake DBS checks where the role applied for involves responsibility for or substantial access to under 18s.

Procedures for Staff and Host Families

It is not unusual to have concerns about young students staying in homestay/hostel/residential accommodation for a variety of reasons. Staff/hosts should, as a matter of course, discuss their concerns with a line manager or London Homestays to clarify their understanding of the situation. Staff/hosts must always pass information or concerns on to their line manager and/or the Safeguarding Officer and never promise confidentiality in issues concerning child protection.

In the case that the Safeguarding Officer is involved, he/she will liaise with the Company Owner and a decision will be made as to whether the matter should be taken further. This will be usually happen where it is believed:

  • there is a risk of significant harm to the student
  • harm to others
  • a criminal act has taken place
  • the student is at immediate risk or danger

How to recognise signs of abuse

Some signs may vary with age of the child. Not every child will exhibit every symptom. As well as signs, children may tell you of abuse. Always listen and take them seriously.

Possible signs of sexual abuse:

  • Acting in an inappropriate sexual way with objects or peers
  • Nightmares, sleeping problems
  • Becoming withdrawn or clingy
  • Personality changes, seeming insecure
  • Unaccountable fear/dread of particular places or people
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Physical signs such as unexplained soreness around genitals, sexually transmitted diseases, bed-wetting
  • Becoming secretive
  • Emotional abuse
  • Delayed physical or emotional development
  • Shows extremes of passivity or aggression
  • Sudden speech disorders
  • Overreaction to mistakes, or continual self-depreciation
  • Neurotic behaviour (rocking, hair twisting, self-mutilation)

Possible signs of physical abuse:

  • Has unexplained injuries, bruises, burns, etc
  • Wearing clothes to cover injuries, even in hot weather
  • Refusal to undress for sports, or join swimming sessions
  • Neglect
  • Often hungry; may beg or steal food
  • Badly dressed in clothes that need washing
  • Poor appearance and personal hygiene; unwashed, hair not brushed
  • Lacks needed medical or dental care
  • Often tired
  • Might abuse alcohol or other drugs

How to react if you suspect abuse

  1. Remain calm, accessible and receptive, listen carefully without interrupting.
  2. Communicate with the student in a way that is appropriate to their age, understanding and preference.
  3. Be aware of the non-verbal messages you are giving.
  4. Make it clear that you are taking them seriously.
  5. Acknowledge their courage and reassure them that they are right to tell.
  6. Reassure them that they should not feel guilty, let them know that you are going to do everything you can to help them and what may happen as a result.
  7. Do not promise to keep the information a secret.

Procedure to follow if abuse is suspected:

  1. Inform the Safeguarding Officer if you notice any significant physical and behavioural changes or suspect abuse has or is taking place. This includes information reported to you.
  2. If a student makes any comment that gives cause for concern or there is any deterioration in the student’s general well-being, react calmly as described in the guidelines above and inform the Safeguarding Officer.
  3. The Safeguarding Officer will take appropriate action, which may involve external agencies and contacting parents/guardians.
  4. The Safeguarding Officer will report the situation to LADO (Local Authority Designated Officer). The LADO is part of the Local Area Safeguarding Children Board and will decide what steps need to be taken. The LADO will advise the Designated Person of the next steps.

If the disclosure of abuse is about somebody in the student’s home country, the same procedure is followed. For example, the LADO may decide to inform the relevant authorities in that country.

Procedure to follow if staff, students or host family members are accused of abuse:

  1. If a member of staff, a student or member of a host family is accused of any form of abuse, such suspicions will be reported to the Safeguarding Officer.
  2. Safeguarding Officer to LADO (Local Authority Designated Officer). The LADO is part of the Local Area Safeguarding Children Board and will decide what steps need to be taken (usually police investigation). The LADO will advise the Designated Person of the next steps.
  3. The person against whom the allegation is made will be informed of the allegation and interviewed.
  4. Following the interview, if there is any potential substance to the allegation:
  5. Staff (and directors): will be suspended from their duties pending further investigation.
  6. Homestay families: all students will be immediately removed and re-housed and all future bookings suspended until the matter has been fully investigated.
  7. Confidential records will be kept of the allegation and all subsequent proceedings.
  8. Unfounded allegations will result in all rights being re-instated. Founded allegations all information and notes on the host family will be passed on to the police and will result in a termination of employment/voluntary services.

Within the homestay

In homestay accommodation the following is made available to the student to ensure a comfortable living environment throughout their stay:

  • A proper state of cleanliness and repair
  • Adequate heating and lighting
  • Adequately sized bed and adequate hanging and drawer space for clothes
  • A sufficiently spacious bedroom with natural light, equipped with an adequately sized
  • A bed and adequate hanging and drawer space for clothes
  • Appropriate privacy from members of the opposite sex
  • A table for private study (where appropriate)
  • Sufficient washing facilities and access to a bathroom, with baths or showers available daily
  • A change of towels and bed linen each week and an adequate supply of duvets or blankets
  • A laundry service (especially in the case of under-16s) or clearly explained laundry arrangements.

London Homestays recommends the following curfew times:

  • Under 16s must remain at their homestay once they have returned for dinner in the evening. Under 16s travelling in a group are permitted to attend evening excursions, if accompanied by a group leader.
  • 16 – 17 years of age: 22:30

These times should be adhered to, to ensure the safety of the students. If they are not adhered to, the students will no longer be allowed to go out in the evenings or may be asked to leave the homestay to return to their parent/guardian.

Any changes in curfew times for juniors will only be agreed upon receipt of written consent from the student’s parents or guardian through their school. Once agreed, this will then be passed on to the host family.

Record-keeping

It is essential that clear and accurate records are kept regarding all welfare issues.

Any disclosure of abuse, made either by a student or another member of staff/host family, must be recorded in the feedback section of the host/accommodation providers’ file. This will include the feedback given, the action taken and the resolution or conclusion.

The report should be factual and should not include opinions or personal interpretations of the facts presented as it may form part of a criminal investigation. The report should be name and date-stamped by the member of staff filing the report.

If deemed appropriate and necessary by the Safeguarding Officer, a hard copy of the report will be made, signed by the staff making the report and keep a copy stored in a secure place.

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