The safety and welfare of children, or Child Protection, means protecting children from physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect. Quest Guardians is committed to the protection of all children in its care. We aim to ensure that the students in our care experience at all times a caring and secure environment in which they feel safe, respected and valued. If you have any concerns, Quest Guardians’ Child Protection Officer is Liz Davies, mobile 07971 524222. She is fully conversant with the action required to receive complaints of abuse, to investigate those complaints and to record and report them to the appropriate authority. Liz Davies is also the DSL (Designated Safeguarding Lead) for Quest Guardians and Henry Michelmore is the Deputy DSL. Quest also undertakes the following:
- To make all guardianship personnel and the students in our care aware of the need to report allegations and suspicions of child abuse to the CPC;
- To promote a policy of trust, openness and clear communication between students, school and Quest Guardians staff and our Host Families, so that student welfare is the top priority;
- To investigate any reported allegation or suspicion of child abuse in accordance with the principles and guidelines set out in the Child Protection Policy of the Association for the Education and Guardianship of International Students (AEGIS);
- To maintain links with the appropriate governmental authorities with jurisdiction in matters pertaining to child welfare;
- To support the student’s development in ways that will foster security, confidence and independence;
- To provide an environment in which students feel safe, secure, valued and respected, and feel confident, and know how to approach adults if they are in difficulty, believing they will be effectively listened to.
We recognise that a child who is abused or witnesses violence may feel helpless and humiliated, may blame themselves, or find it difficult to develop and maintain a sense of self-worth, so we recognise that all matters relating to safeguarding are confidential. However, all staff – including host families – must be aware that they have a professional responsibility to share information with other agencies in order to safeguard children. All staff and host families must be aware that they cannot promise a child to keep secrets which might compromise the child’s safety or wellbeing.
Our procedures will be annually reviewed and updated. Any deficiencies or weaknesses in the procedures will be remedied without delay.
The 24-hour Childline Service continues to be available on 0800 1111. All calls are free and confidential, and trained counsellors will help any young person with any problem.
Welfare, Heath & Safety
As a host family, you will be expected to protect the students that you host and you will be required to have a valid Enhanced Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) check for each member of the household or regular visitors aged 16 or over who will be present whilst students are staying with you.
- Be even handed in relationships with Quest students – avoid the appearance, or the reality of, favouritism
- Be unambiguous in your behaviour towards guest students
- Avoid secrecy and understand confidentiality
- Respect students’ rights and privacy
- Share concerns and worries with Quest staff
- Avoid being misinterpreted
- Understand issues concerning physical restraint
- Avoid inviting a Quest student to ‘friend’ you on Facebook or other social media sites
SAFE CARE PLAN – You should have due consideration for the safe care of both the student and your family. A SAFE CARE PLAN should be adopted (particularly for long stays in excess of 28 nights) and may consider the following:
- Entering the Student’s Bedroom (appropriate, respectful, knocking and allowing privacy)
- Bathroom Conduct and Routines (All need to be able to lock the door, and be given times if necessary)
- Medication locked away
- Smoking by both family, friends and possibly students (although it is banned at all boarding schools)
- Drinking alcohol, plus storage of alcohol both with family, friends, and the impact on students
- Friends visiting and their conduct towards students
- Internet and telephone use (see policy)
- Car driving – Who is allowed to drive the student and in which car?
- Bedtime routines and respect for privacy
- Sexual conduct and demonstrating affection towards both the student and within the family
- Rules that may be non-negotiable or guidelines. These may include:
- Parent rooms are out of bounds
- Adult males should avoid being alone in the bedroom or bathroom with a female student and should be appropriately clothed
- Bathroom routines
- Breakfast (if late, may be DIY) and other meal times
It is also your responsibility to make sure all electrical appliances are safe, particularly in the student’s room and we recommend PAT testing each electrical appliance annually. All gas appliances are to be inspected annually by a Gas Safe registered plumber, and a Gas Safety Certificate provided to Quest Head Office. Smoke and Carbon Monoxide alarms MUST be fitted in the house. Medicines and/or chemicals must not be stored unlocked in the student’s bathroom. Explain basic fire escape routes, access to the outside doors, and the location of any necessary keys. Please also ensure that they know to dial 999 for Police, Fire or Ambulance should any such emergency arise whilst they are staying with you.
Unexplained student absences or other situations affecting student safety, should be reported to Quest Guardians immediately, either via the landline (01202 882299) during office hours or on the out of office hours (urgent) line (07545 502255). Specifically, should a student who is booked with a host family not arrive within 2 hours of when they are expected, it is the duty of the host family to advise us of this matter and we will follow up, taking all necessary actions to locate the child.
It is the clear responsibility of any member of staff or host family to immediately report any suspicion or allegation of abuse of any kind to the Child Protection Officer (Mrs Liz Davies) using either the office landline (01202 882299) during office hours, the emergency ‘on call’ number out of hours (07545 502255) or Mrs Davies’s mobile number (07971 524222).
All students are provided with a Student Handbook at their first meeting with their Regional Coordinator and the Coordinator will go through the Handbook with the student to ensure that it is understood. Clear guidelines are given on conduct and behaviour whilst staying with a host family and reflect the policies in this Host Family Handbook.
If you have unresolvable concerns about behaviour, please phone the office.
Use of Computers and Internet
Since the development of responsible, considerate and independent use of computers and the internet is important for a student’s education, but it is essential to outline appropriate computer use and provide guidelines as to their safe use. Some material accessible via the internet may be illegal, defamatory, inaccurate or potentially offensive.
When staying with a host family, a wireless internet connection is normally available but speeds can be slow in some parts of the UK, especially in rural areas. Internet download is often limited and can be very expensive, so students are not allowed to download large files, such as films, games and music. Students should not need to use the host’s telephone or computers. Students should also be aware of the routine of the household and therefore should not be using their computers to Skype, Facetime or otherwise disturb the household between the hours of 11.00 pm and 08.00 am or as the host dictates.
Students should ensure memory sticks or other storage media are free from computer viruses and any software on personally owned machines is legally licensed.
Students are not allowed to use the internet for any illegal activity, this includes accessing sites meant for adults or 18 years or older such as pornographic or gambling sites. Students must not search for, or browse through, any sites that contain offensive, obscene, violent, dangerous, inflammatory, racist or extremist material. Downloading any unlicensed material such as music, video, TV programmes, games and PDF files is illegal and therefore not permitted.
Whilst use of social networking sites has brought about a communications revolution that gives young people unrivalled opportunities, it also brings risks. It is important that students understand these risks, know how to stay safe in this environment and how to avoid making themselves vulnerable to a range of issues including identity theft, bullying, harassment, grooming and abuse. They also need to learn how to avoid the risk of exposing themselves to subsequent embarrassment due to an inappropriate personal profile or inclusion on another’s profile. The Child Exploitation and Online Protection body (CEOP) provides some useful guidelines and advice for parents, guardians, host families and students (thinkyouknow.co.uk is the CEOP’s online safety centre).
Any type of hacking (defined as attempt to gain access to folders, databases, or other material on the network to which one is not entitled) is considered to be an extremely serious offence. To comply with the Computer Misuse Act 1990, any student who indulges in hacking or is found with hacking software/paraphernalia on their computer can expect to face serious consequences. Likewise, physical interference with any other computer is not tolerated.
We are aware that many past students become friends of the family and keep in touch with the host family when they have returned home. In times of social media sites and the internet, this contact needs to be both thoughtful and appropriate.
Quest Guardians will not accept liability for the loss or damage to any computers owned by the student or borrowed from anyone.
Safer Staff Recruitment and Training
Reference to safeguarding children and child protection should now be considered by Quest Guardians Ltd at all stages of the recruitment process. A commitment to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children needs to be made clear throughout. Adhering to a consistent process of collating, analysing and evaluating information about job applicants is also a vital part of the commitment to safeguarding children.
This should include, as appropriate:
- Ensuring the job description refers to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children;
- Ensuring the person specification refers specifically to working with children, or in a setting where children are present;
- Obtaining comprehensive and appropriate information from applicants, this should be scrutinised, particularly for any discrepancies or anomalies. These should be checked until a satisfactory outcome is reached;
- Obtaining and verifying independent professional and character references, that specifically request information about an applicant’s suitability to work with children, or around, children and take up any concerns;
- Verify an applicant’s identity;
- Where relevant, check their employment history and other experience
- Verify they have the levels of health and physical capacity required for the post;
- Obtain an Enhanced DBS Disclosure check on all adults over the age of 16:
- In the case of Host Families, those who reside in the household
- Other employees and Coordinators who undertake work for Quest Guardians Ltd and who come into contact with our students.
Safeguarding and Child Protection Training
Quest Guardians Ltd has a commitment to take its role in safeguarding and the protection of children and vulnerable adults and promotion of their welfare very seriously and to ensure all safeguarding matters are investigated following policy and appropriately referred.
To achieve this Quest Guardians Ltd will:
- Ensure staff are fully aware that safeguarding is a key responsibility
- Have an appointed Child Protection Coordinator (CPC)
- Support the CPC with an appropriately trained support team
- Provide mandatory safeguarding training to all College staff irrespective of the person’s role (protection of children and protection of vulnerable adults)
All staff will
- Take the Company’s policy and commitment to safeguarding very seriously
- Complete mandatory safeguarding training
Quest Staff Recruitment Policy is continually reviewed and updated.
- DBS Checks are carried out on all staff and Host Families / Homestay family members where there is possible contact with students. Staff retention within Quest Guardians is very good.
- It is not possible to undertake DBS checks without the written permission of the recipient.
- Quest has recently updated its procedures to record updates, particularly to Safeguarding training.
- Host Families receive regular communications and always receive a copy of updated Host Handbook
- All relevant Quest literature has reference to telephone numbers and emergency contact
- The Host and Coordinator Handbooks have guidance on the AEGIS “CL1” check list. Coordinators have a copy of the CL1
- Quest has no students under a Private Fostering Arrangement (PFA)