What systems does HHC have in place to ensure that children are well cared for by their foster parents or in Small Family Homes?
Hope and Homes for Children takes very seriously each child’s right to be protected from all forms of violence, abuse and neglect, enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 19). For this reason we have a Child Protection Policy which sets out our expectations for all Hope and Homes for Children staff, volunteers and associates, and processes to follow in the event of a concern. Every new member of staff and volunteer, both in UK and in every country where we work, receives child protection induction at the beginning of their work with Hope and Homes for Children and is also expected to attend an annual child protection refresher session.
When moving children to any new placement, including foster care and small group homes, we take great care to make sure that the move is safe and positive for the child. Our qualified and experienced professionals (social workers and psychologists) work with their colleagues from local authorities to prepare children and their new carers for the move, and the preparation process goes at the right pace for the individual child. If the preparation process doesn’t go well then the plan can be changed. The move itself is carefully planned and the child will usually be taken to the new placement (which he or she will have visited a number of times already) by someone they know and trust. In the months following the move, Hope and Homes for Children will visit and phone regularly to see how things are going. They make sure that they speak to the child away from the carers so that the child can tell us if anything is wrong. We keep on supporting and monitoring the placement until we are sure that everything is going well and that there is a good support network in place for the long term.
We have developed some tools to support our professionals and to make sure that everything is carried out correctly for every individual child. We have written some child protection risk management guidelines which describe the steps for planning and carrying out a safe placement. We have also developed a risk assessment tool which helps us to assess the level of risk that a child might come to harm in their placement. We carry out the risk assessment before the child moves and then repeat it every few months to see what has changed. If the risk level is high then we will think again about whether or not this is the right placement for the child. Finally we have a case management checklist which our professionals use to make sure that they have covered every step in the process with every child.
If there is a concern that a child might have been harmed, we have a written process for reporting and responding. The priority is always to ensure the immediate and longer term safety and wellbeing of the child.