Children develop best when they’re healthy, safe, and secure. Safeguarding procedures help childcare providers build high-quality environments where children can cultivate foundational life skills.
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) puts these standards in place to ensure children not only learn but thrive. All early years childcare providers that are Ofsted registered, either through self-registration or via a Childminder Agency (CMA), must follow these standards.
In this article, we’ll share what safeguarding is, why it’s important, and how you can safeguard your home.
Table of contents
- What is safeguarding?
- Why is safeguarding important to early years development?
- How to safeguard your home to provide a high-quality childminder environment
- Wrapping up
What is safeguarding?
Safeguarding is a set of practices and policies used to keep children safe and promote their welfare.
It involves ensuring children grow up in a safe environment where all their basic needs are met. And, critically, it works to prevent harm to their development and protect them from abuse and neglect.
In the Working Together to Safeguard Children statutory guidance, the government defines child safeguarding as:
- Protecting children from maltreatment (i.e. inflicting or witnessing physical or emotional abuse or neglect that takes place in-person, online, or both, by either an adult or another child)
- Preventing impairment of children’s mental and physical health or development (this includes both short and long-term serious harm, whether it be social, mental, behavioural, intellectual, or emotional)
- Ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care (i.e. an environment with no maltreatment or impairment)
- Taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes (i.e. intervening if and when necessary to stop a bad situation and report inappropriate behaviour)
At its core, safeguarding is about giving children the best start in life by keeping them safe.
It’s important to note that Safeguarding is different from child protection. Safeguarding is put in place to prevent harmful situations and environments, whereas child protection is the act of responding to abuse or neglect after the fact.
In practice, this looks like a childminder following Safeguarding procedures, encountering a bad situation, intervening as needed, and then reporting it (if necessary) to the relevant agency or authority to take further action.
All childminders (and assistants) must have an up to date understanding of safeguarding and children’s welfare. In England and Wales, the EYFS requires that every childcare setting has one designated person to take “lead responsibility” when it comes to safeguarding. If you run your own childminding business, that responsibility falls to you.
Lead childminders must complete safeguarding training and produce written safeguarding policies if it’s a requirement for their setting (more on this in a later section).
Moreover, if you have additional responsibilities for safeguarding children (e.g. you’re caring for children with special needs or learning disabilities) you may be required to take a further Child Protection course.
You can check the requirements for your specific role and responsibilities by contacting your Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) or local authority. If you’re registered with a CMA like tiney, our team will source this information on your behalf to save you time and paperwork.
Why is safeguarding important to early years development?
In the early years (or the first five years of a child’s life) children depend on adults for many of their basic needs to be met. The early years are also a hugely important time when it comes to child development.
As we discussed in our childminder ratios guide, early years development significantly influences long-term social, behavioural, and cognitive development—even into adulthood.
Creating a safe, high-quality environment for young children to learn and thrive can literally help them establish more fully developed skills that they will carry with them throughout the rest of their lives.
This doesn’t mean that safeguarding is more or less important depending on a child’s age. But, the practices do vary slightly based on the stage of child development.
For example, when young children are away from their parents in a childcare setting they need a consistent, caring figure to attach to in order to flourish.
A safe and secure environment like a childminder’s home can help increase a child’s sense of security. This helps to decrease stress and allows for the child to become more present and engaged. As such, they’ll maintain a mindset more conducive to developing skills through play.
It goes without saying that ensuring children are in a safe environment where they can thrive is of paramount concern when considering the quality of a childcare setting.
How to safeguard your home to provide a high-quality childminder environment
As a registered childminder, it’s your legal responsibility to safeguard children.
If you choose to start a tiney home, you’ll need to complete safeguarding training (more on this in a moment). Then, we’ll run robust checks at the pre-registration stage to make sure that your home upholds our safety policies.
If you are registered through Ofsted, they’ll send an inspector to your home to evaluate your setting. These inspections are carried out under Ofsted’s Education inspection framework (EIF) and the inspectors follow the early years inspection handbook.
In both cases, we (your CMA) or Ofsted themselves will also run an enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check on you as well as any members of your household over the age of 16.
This ensures that you (or a household member that may be near the children under your watch) don’t have any past criminal convictions that could impact your ability to create a safe and secure environment.
Top Tip: To learn more about what Ofsted registration is, the difference between self-registration and registering with a CMA (like tiney), and how long the process takes, read our guide to how to navigate Ofsted registration for childminders.
As mentioned above, here at tiney we provide robust EYFS and Safeguarding training and then conduct all Safeguarding checks ourselves. Our training includes:
- A 22-hour long bespoke pre-registration course that is part live, part asynchronous (i.e. not in real-time) that includes courses on learning through play, helping children manage their feelings and behaviour, two detailed Safeguarding-specific modules, and much more
- E-learning modules combined with live webinars, which includes a midpoint assessment that enables us to understand progress and provide extra input as necessary
- Regular, ongoing continuous professional development (CPD) in the form of webinars, in-person conferences, and modules through our tiney app
- In-person Paediatric First Aid training (aided by an expert partner) for all prospective childminders
- Training on food hygiene, Prevent Duty Training (i.e prevention of radicalisation), and a course on female genital mutilation (FGM) to improve knowledge and awareness on this very serious form of child abuse and how to spot common signs and indicators
- An optional (but highly recommended) “safeguarding scenarios” webinar that prepares you for multiple hypothetical situations and how to navigate them (you can attend this more than once need be)
As mentioned above, on top of our in-house training, we also work with Local Authorities to ascertain how tiney childminders can access any training opportunities through their in-house training programmes.
Note: If you choose to hire assistants to help you run your tiney home, they will also need to go through safeguarding and first aid training. As they are allowed to watch children on their own for a maximum of two hours per day, it’s absolutely critical that they are equipped to handle any situation that may arise.
Safeguarding checklists and ongoing guidance
It’s critical that you follow safeguarding policies and procedures to a T. This will help you pass your home checks but most important work to ensure you create the safest, most rewarding environment possible.
At tiney, we will give you checklists to use during training (and beyond) to help you safeguard your home. This includes:
- Environment checklists so that you know how big your space must be and what it must include. For example, the EYFS statutory framework stipulates that you must allow 2.3 m2 per child aged three to five years, 2.5 m2 for every two-year-old and 3.5 m2 for every child under two. As you can see, the younger the children are, the more space you must have.
- Equipment checklists so that you know what exactly is and isn’t considered safe and appropriate to include in your space. Your equipment must not only be safe, but feel safe so that children can create, explore, and exercise with a smile on their faces.
- Health and safety checklists to help you effectively take the lead and empower your carers (if you choose to employ an assistant or another childminder) to live by the behaviour policies that allow for a risk-free environment.
- Risk assessment checklists to consistently double-check that your environment is in fact operating risk-free. Of course, in a perfect world, this will always be the case, but if you do notice something is off, we also include a checklist of questions to ask if child protection appears to be at risk of harm.
- Template policies that make it easy to customise the policies you put in place for your own business in terms of child protection or emergency evacuation procedures.
Once you’ve completed your training, we provide ongoing support and guidance to ensure you always have somebody by your side (need be).
Through our app, you’ll receive regular ideas for activities to support the EYFS within your setting and in your local area. You can also categorise safeguarding concerns or queries within in-app comms and one of our tiney employees will provide an answer.
We’ll also notify you when your mandatory training, including Paediatric First Aid and safeguarding training, is due for renewal. Safeguarding training, for example, must be renewed every two years. This timeline applies to you (the safeguarding lead) as well as any staff.
It’s easy to lose track of these renewal dates, so we’ll make sure that you’re always fully up to date with any mandatory requirements.
How has COVID-19 affected safeguarding?
The coronavirus pandemic has significantly impacted safeguarding.
During the time periods in which the government has not imposed lockdown measures, Childminders have had to weigh the physical safety of opening up again against the mental harm of social isolation that we all (but especially children) face.
One of the most important parts of providing high-quality early years education is maintaining a consistent, reliable relationship with the children in your care. Continuity of care helps children form secure attachments, which helps to reduce stress in real-time and allows for more positive development outcomes in the future.
The most important thing you can do is keep your options open. If you don’t feel comfortable opening up your home just yet, consider offering remote teaching and virtual learning to maintain that connection.
If you are a tiney-registered childminder, you can use our app to stay in touch with parents and discuss closures or alternative learning (like remote settings). Of course, if you do choose to move your tiney home online, you must consider internet safety.
To learn more about how you can run your childminding business during COVID-19, read our guide to Safeguarding during Coronavirus. And for more information on internet safety, visit GOV.UK’s page on safeguarding and remote education during coronavirus.
Keeping children safe is of the utmost importance in learning environments. Safeguarding procedures help you create an environment that is safe, secure and allows children to thrive. This is especially important for early years, as the environment a child learns in will directly affect their social, behavioural, and cognitive development over time.
The safeguarding training that you will undertake (either through Ofsted or a CMA) will prepare you for:
- How to meet children’s basic needs
- Maintaining a safe environment
- Utilising the best equipment
- Understanding how to safely administer medicine
- How to promote food hygiene
- Identifying and responding to risk of abuse (whether physical or mental)
- Preventing accidents and conducting risk assessments
- Knowing who to call and how to report a problem if one arises
Ready to start your journey to becoming a childminder today? Learn more about joining tiney.