1.6 A Child-centred Approach to Safeguarding
This child centred approach is fundamental to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of every child. A child centred approach means keeping the child in focus when making decisions about their lives and working in partnership with them and their families.
All practitioners should follow the principles of the Children Acts 1989 and 2004 - that state that the welfare of children is paramount and that they are best looked after within their families, with their parents playing a full part in their lives, unless compulsory intervention in family life is necessary.
Anyone working with children should see and speak to the child; listen to what they say; take their views seriously; and work with them and their families collaboratively when deciding how to support their needs. Special provision should be put in place to support dialogue with children who have communication difficulties, unaccompanied children, refugees and those children who are victims of modern slavery and/or trafficking. This child-centred approach is supported by:
- The Children Act 1989 This Act requires local authorities to give due regard to a child’s wishes when determining what services to provide under section 17 and before making decisions about action to be taken to protect individual children under section 47. These duties complement requirements relating to the wishes and feelings of children who are, or may be, looked-after (section 22(4)), including those who are provided with accommodation under section 20 and children taken into police protection (section 46(3)(d))
- The Equality Act 2010 which puts a responsibility on public authorities to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and promote equality of opportunity. This applies to the process of identification of need and risk faced by the individual child and the process of assessment. No child or group of children must be treated any less favourably than others in being able to access effective services which meet their particular needs
- The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). This is an international agreement that protects the rights of children and provides a child-centred framework for the development of services to children. The UK Government ratified the UNCRC in 1991 and, by doing so, recognises children's rights to expression and receiving information.
Children and young people's views
Children have said that they need:
- Vigilance: to have adults notice when things are troubling them;
- Understanding and action: to understand what is happening; to be heard and understood; and to have that understanding acted upon;
- Stability: to be able to develop an on-going stable relationship of trust with those helping them;
- Respect: to be treated with the expectation that they are competent rather than not;
- Information and engagement: to be informed about and involved in procedures, decisions, concerns and plans;
- Explanation: to be informed of the outcome of assessments and decisions and reasons when their views have not met with a positive response;
- Support: to be provided with support in their own right as well as a member of their family;
- Advocacy: to be provided with advocacy to assist them in putting forward their views;
- Protection: to be protected against all forms of abuse and discrimination and the right to special protection and help if a refugee.
There are some guides and leaflets to give to parents and young people to assist with explanations and participation, for example the NSPCC resources on responding to children disclosing abuse.