Evaluating the Extent to Which Early Childhood Settings Can Effectively Protect and Safeguard Children in Relation to the Wider Multi Agency Approach

Evaluating the Extent to Which Early Childhood Settings Can Effectively Protect and Safeguard Children in Relation to the Wider Multi Agency Approach

Safeguarding and children protection play big roles when caring for children. Safeguarding may be considered as the process of protecting children from any abuse or neglect, preventing impairment of their health and development, and furthermore ensuring they are able to grow up in circumstances which are safe, enabling them to be provided with effective that enables children to have the optimum life chances and enter their adulthood successfully (Safeguarding Children, 2008). Child protection is a part of safeguarding and for promoting the welfare of children. This refers to the activity which is carried out to protect any specific children which are suffering, or are at any risk of suffering significant harm. (HM Gov, 2006).

All practitioners and other professionals working with young children have a key role to play when it comes to safeguarding and protecting young children. When it comes to safeguarding a child, a multi-agency approach is taken, meaning that all professionals involved with a child will all work together, giving their input and knowledge from specific job roles, to ensure that a child is protected on all levels. Initially, safeguarding and protecting children is the role of the Local Authority (LA), who will work in partnership with various other public organisations, the voluntary sector, children and young people, their parents and carers, and furthermore the wider community. The key objective behind the LA is to ensure that children are in fact protected from harm. However, they do play an important role in safeguarding when it comes to situations such as youth services and housing (HM Gov, 2006).

It is important that within early years settings, all workers acquire information about how they should proceed in the event that a child is being abused, or if they suspect abuse (Calder and Hackett, 2003). Therefore, it will be necessary for any practitioners working with children to ensure that they are aware of any signs of abuse; whether this is physical, emotional, sexual or neglect. Of course, it may be hard to notice any abuse in young children, as more often than not they may try to hide any signs due to their high levels of attachment to the abuser. This could be explained through the natural feelings of love and attachment that young children tend to develop toward their main carer, explained as an attachment theory (Bowlby, 1969, cited by: Waller, 2005).

The Stockholm syndrome ( is also relevant to abused children, as it indicates a range of protective processes. Practitioners should consider adapting the processes into their daily practice with regards to a child they considered to be abused, as this may assist in their supportive skills. There are two main processes that practitioners should look for in particular within children. Firstly, children may show ‘frozen fright’, meaning that the child’s energy will be focused on the abuser. If a practitioner recognises such behaviour on a regular basis, then they may need to consider any further action. Secondly, a child may be showing signs of ‘acceptance’, meaning that their behaviour may have changed from appearing scared and frozen, to appearing calm and compliant. Bruce (2005) states that good relationships are about constantly seeking a balance between tuning into your own feelings and thoughts, whilst reading and tuning into those of others. Therefore, it is vital that practitioners are constantly looking beyond what meets the eye with children, listening and supporting children, ensuring that if they notice anything they class as serious, they take necessary action.

Within a setting, early years practitioners will all be aware of their role when it comes to safeguarding each child, and the procedures they should follow. Obviously, within settings, a multi-agency approach will be taken, as a child may be seeing a speech therapist or, even a social worker. It is vital that each professional shares any information they feel is important when it comes to the safety of a child. Within early years settings, there are various rules, regulations and legislation in place that all practitioner will follow when it comes to safeguarding and protecting children. Initially, if a practitioner notices any signs that may be linked to abuse, there are four key diagnostic points that they should follow. Firstly, they may be told that abuse has in fact occurred, secondly, does the history or explanation match the observed injury, thirdly is there now an increased potential for violence, and fourthly are there further observable signs. Practitioners should never jump to conclusions when it comes to safeguarding and protecting children. Beckett (200?) states that child protection is difficult as it does involve operating at a point where two of the strongly held beliefs within society clash. Therefore, practitioners should ensure that they take all aspects into consideration before referring a child.

A Common Assessment Framework (CAF) is a shared assessment and planning framework which is used across all children's services and all local areas in England. It aims to help children's additional needs be identified at an earlier age and to promote co-ordinated service provision to meet them. A CAF will be used within all early years settings, and will be in place in many forms to protect children.

Further legislation used within early years settings is the ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children (2010)’ policy. This sets out how both organisations and individuals should work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people, in accordance to the Children Act 1989 and the Children Act 2004. Therefore, settings will have to consider a multi-agency approach when working with each child as an individual. Chapter two of the policy indulges into the roles, responsibilities and duties of workers within settings. One point made in particular is that all settings providing care for children should ensure that there are no known reasons which could prevent staff or volunteers from working with children (HM Gov, 2010). Therefore, a result of such policy is that all staff have Criminal Record checks, ensuring that they are eligible to provide a safe learning environment for children.
From a child’s perspective within a setting, it is vital that their rights are considered. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child UNCRC 1989 sets out basic rights that all children should have, and with regards to safeguarding and protecting there are certain rights that children should be provided with, being; the right to survival, to develop to the fullest, the right to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation.
However, within childcare settings, there are many boundaries and negatives of the professional role within the multi-agency approach. No one professional can always protect a child, no matter how hard they may try.

Bruce, T (2005). Early Childhood Education. 3rd ed. London: Hodder Arnold.
HM Government (2006) Working Together Safeguard Children. A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. London: The Stationery Office
Safeguarding Children, Ofsted (2008) [Online]. Available: http://www.safeguardingchildren.org.uk/. Last Accessed 2nd November 2011.
Waller, T (ed) (2005) An introduction to Early Childhood. London: Sage.