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Policies and Procedures Regarding Child Abuse

U.M.C.A. RICH TREE ACADEMY

2016-2017

Policies and Procedures Regarding Child Abuse

Purpose of the Policies and Procedures

U.M.C.A. Rich Tree Academy is committed to taking a pro-active position regarding the prevention of child abuse through:

• Ongoing observation of the children in our care;

• Professional education with respect to early identification, effective response and adherence to legal obligations, including reporting;

• Keeping abreast of developments in legislation and relevant issues;

• Communication and support of the child and family; and

• Working with other community service providers.

Policy Statement

U.M.C.A. Rich Tree Academy will not tolerate any form of physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, or psychological abuse, nor any form of neglect or harassment.

Definitions

A child is defined as a person from birth until his/her 16th birthday.

Child abuse is defined as follows:

Health Canada, Child Maltreatment Section states "Child maltreatment can be categorized into several broad types including physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect/failure to provide, and emotional maltreatment.

Physical abuse (child abuse) is the deliberate application of force to any part of a child's body, which results or may result in a non-accidental injury. Physical abuse may include shaking, choking, biting, kicking, burning, poisoning, holding a child under water, or any other harmful or dangerous use of force or restraint. Most child physical abuse is associated with physical punishment or is confused with child discipline.

Sexual abuse (child abuse) occurs when an adult or youth uses a child for sexual purposes. Sexual abuse includes fondling, intercourse, incest, sodomy, exhibitionism, and commercial exploitation through prostitution or the production of pornographic materials.

Neglect/failure to provide (child abuse) occurs when a child's parents or caregivers do not provide the requisite attention to the child's emotional, psychological, or physical development.

Emotional maltreatment (child abuse) involves acts or omissions by parents or caregivers that cause or could cause serious behavioural, cognitive, emotional, or mental disorders. Emotional maltreatment can include verbal threats, socially isolating a child, intimidation, exploitation, terrorizing, or routinely making unreasonable demands on a child."

Reference:  Canadian Children’s Rights Council

http://canadiancrc.com/Child_Abuse/Child_Abuse.aspx

Duty to Report

In accordance with the Child and Family Services Act (CFSA), it is the responsibility of every person in Ontario, including a person who performs professional or official duties with respect to children, to immediately report to a Children’s Aid Society if s/he suspects that child abuse has occurred or if a child is at risk of abuse. This includes any operator or employee of a school.  An individual’s responsibility to report cannot be delegated to anyone else.

The Child and Family Services Act (CFSA) clearly states in section 72 (1) the situations that must be reported. These include instances where the following has occurred or is at risk of occurring:

  • physical harm resulting from neglect, abuse or lack of care;
  • sexual abuse, molestation or exploitation;
  • medical treatment to cure, prevent or alleviate physical harm is withheld by a parent or guardian;
  • a child is suffering from anxiety, depression, withdrawal, self-destructive, aggressive behavior or any other emotional harm due to the neglect, actions or failure to act of the child's parent or guardian;
  • abandonment; and
  • a child is less than 12 years old and has killed or seriously injured another person or another person's property because the child's parent or guardian has failed to supervise the child adequately, or if the parent has refused services or treatment to prevent the child from re-committing a similar action.

Professionals are held to a higher standard.  Any professional or official who obtains information while on duty, which causes them to suspect a child is in need of protection, must report directly to a CAS, even if the information would normally be confidential or privileged.

The following is a partial list of people who are considered to be professionals under the CFSA:

  • Health care professionals, including physicians, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, and psychologists;
  • Teachers, and school principals;
  • Social workers and family counsellors;
  • Priests, rabbis and other members of the clergy;
  • Operators or employees of day nurseries;
  • Youth and recreation workers (not volunteers);
  • Peace officers and coroners;
  • Solicitors;
  • Service providers and employees of service providers; and
  • Any other person who performs professional or official duties with respect to children.

You are protected.  In extreme cases where a civil action is brought against a person who made a report, that person will be protected from liability unless he/she acted maliciously or without reasonable grounds.

Failure to Report

It is an offence under the Child and Family Services Act for a professional to contravene one’s reporting responsibilities. The penalty imposed (a fine of up to $1000) emphasizes that a child’s safety must take precedence over all other concerns.

Confidentiality

The duty to report suspicions of child abuse overrides the provisions of confidentiality in any other statute, specifically those provisions that would otherwise prohibit disclosure by a professional or official. The only exception to this is solicitor/client privilege.

Protection from Liability

All persons making a report of suspected child abuse are protected against civil action, unless that person is proven to have acted maliciously or without reasonable grounds for the belief or suspicion.

Reporting Procedures

1. Any staff/student/volunteer who suspects that a child has been abused or is at risk of abuse should inform the administration of the intention to immediately call a Children’s Aid Society (CAS). The person who suspects the abuse must call him/herself- do the not ask anyone else to help you decided if a report should be made or to make the report for you. Do not discuss your suspicions with anyone else until you have spoken with a Children’s Aid Worker.

2. If necessary access immediate medical attention if a child has sustained injuries. Where injuries have been suspected to have been caused by child abuse, do not inform the parent of the intention to access medical care for the child, until you have spoken with a Children’s Aid Worker.

3. If there are any concerns or doubts regarding making a report of suspected abuse, the staff/student/volunteer will be encouraged by the supervisor to consult with a worker from a Children’s Aid Society. If the allegation is against another child in the school, the administration will consult with a Children’s Aid worker as to how to best protect, supervise and support both the alleged victim and abuser, and other children.

4. It is the responsibility of the person who suspects child abuse to follow through on the report to the Children’s Aid Society, and the administration will provide support and direction. When making the report, give your name, the school name, your position and phone number to the Children’s Aid worker.

5. No staff/student/volunteer will advise someone not report suspicions of child abuse, or to try to stop the person from reposting or consulting with the Children’s Aid Society. There will be no sanctions or reprimands for anyone who consults/reports suspicions of child abuse. However, disciplinary action will result if there is an attempt to stop someone from following through with the legal duty to report.

6. If a staff/student/volunteer has any further suspicions of abuse or new information with respect to a child, s/he must immediately make another report to the appropriate Children’s Aid Society, regardless of any previous reports.

7. Information considered confidential cannot be kept in confidence if it is related to a suspicion of child abuse- all staff/students/volunteers must follow through on the legal duty report.

Making a Report of Suspected Child Abuse

Suspicions of child abuse must be reported “forthwith” (i.e., immediately) to the Children’s Aid Society. If the child’s religious affiliation is known, the report can be made directly to the society of the appropriate religious affiliation.

 • Children’s Aid Society  • Jewish Family and Child Services  • Catholic Children’s Aid Society

 • Native Child and Family Services

If the child’s religious or cultural affiliation is not known, or is neither Catholic, Jewish nor Native, the report can be made to the Children’s Aid Society.

A report to all Children’s Aid Societies can be made any day, at any hour. However, if reporting after regular business hours, you will likely be required to leave a message, your name and return telephone number with an answering service. Indicate if your call is urgent. You will then need to wait for a return call from an after-hours protection worker. Leaving a message with an answering service is not considered a report- you must speak directly to a Children’s Aid worker. If the staff/student/volunteer thinks the child is in immediate danger, do not wait to be called back - phone the police.

What to Do

You do not need to interview or validate your suspicion that a child or children may be in need of protection.  A CAS worker will look after this.  It is sufficient to have reasonable grounds to suspect protection may be needed.

When you call CAS, you will be asked for your name, your relationship to the child in need of protection and the grounds on which your suspicions are based.  You will need the name of the potential abuser and/or the address of the potentially abusive situation so that a CAS investigation may occur.

Discussing the Situation with a Parent/Caregiver

A staff/student/volunteer who suspects abuse will not tell a parent/caregiver or child about the suspicion, intention to report or that a report has been made until after consultation with a Children’s Aid Society and confirmation that it would be appropriate to tell. Discussing any suspicions of child abuse with a parent/caregiver/child before consulting with a Children’s Aid worker could jeopardize the child and/or contaminate the investigation.

In situations where the cause of the child’s injuries, the nature of the child’s disclosure, or the behaviours observed are not clear, consult with a Children’s Aid worker before speaking to a child/parent, to discuss the appropriateness of clarifying a situation and to obtain direction. If it is appropriate to clarify any information this should be done in a non-threatening casual way. For example, asking a child “how did you get that bruise?”, or asking a parent “Your child said that you and he are going on a trip. Where to?”

1. Use an interested and concerned tone of voice.

2. Avoid accusatory questions or statements.

3. Ask what happened, and how it happened, rather than why.

4. Ask open-ended questions.

If someone other than the parent/caregiver is the suspected abuser, consult with the Children’s Aid Society as to who should notify the child’s parent/caregiver. If it is decided that it is appropriate for the staff person to inform a parent(s)/caregiver of the report, emphasize to the parent/caregiver both the concern for the child and the legal obligation to report suspicions of child abuse.

DOCUMENTATION

In the event of a staff/student/volunteer suspecting child abuse, a ‘Suspected Child Abuse

Reporting Form” must be completed as soon as possible in the individual’s handwriting, using pen only.  If applicable, this includes circling bruises/injuries on the body chart attached to the reporting form. Document only the facts- do not include how you are feeling about the incident, or personal thoughts about what might have happened.

• Include the name(s) and phone number(s) of the individual(s) you spoke with at a

 Children’s Aid Society and/or police service and any direction you were given.

•Do not make a rough copy and then rewrite in good – the original recording of the facts is your documentation. If you make a mistake, do not white out – cross out and initial errors, and then continue on.

•Sign and date the form.

•This form is to be completed every time a staff/student/volunteer has reason to suspect that child abuse has occurred.

•All documentation is to be forwarded to the administration to be kept in secure and fireproof cabinet, separate from the child’s general file.

What to Report to a Children’s Aid Society

The staff/student/volunteer making a report of suspected child abuse to a Children’s Aid Society may not have access to all the information listed below. If this is the case, do not conduct an investigation to search it out. Remember, it is imperative that the staff/student/volunteer report the information to a Children’s Aid Society as soon as possible.

The following is a list of information, if known, that the staff should be prepared to provide to the Children’s Aid Society when making a report of child abuse.

Information about the Child(ren)

• Identifying information (e.g. name and address of child, primary caregiver and the child’s religion).

• Current whereabouts of the child/family.

• Present physical and or emotional condition of the child.

• Any special vulnerabilities, medical conditions or communication issues.

• The name of the school.

Circumstances Which Prompted the Report

• What was it that led to the report being made today?

• What are the sources of the information for the report?

• What are the details of the concerns, or the incident which precipitated making the report today?

• Do you know of any other relevant incidents or have any other information?

• What actions, if any, have you taken prior to reporting the matter to the Children’s Aid Society?

Information about the Child’s Family and the Alleged Offender

• Parents:  Name, date of birth, address, telephone numbers, and places of work.

• Alleged Offender: Name, date of birth. If not the parent: the alleged offender’s relationship to the child, address, phone number and place of work.

• Current whereabouts of the alleged offender

• Does the alleged offender have access to the child, siblings or other children?

• What is the parents’ awareness of/admission/reaction to the suspected abuse and the child’s

 disclosure?

• What is the language spoken by the parents, the alleged offender?

• Are there any cultural considerations?

• The name of the child’s/family’s physician?

• Any concerns for family members with respect to mental health, physical illness, substance

 abuse, weapons and/or violence?

• Names and addresses of extended family members and others who could be supportive to the child and the family.

Other Information

• Who else has direct knowledge of the incident being reported?

• Who else may have observed the child, or other incidents?

• Who else knows this family well?

• What other professionals or agencies may be involved with the child and family?

If a Staff/Student/Volunteer is Suspected of Child Abuse

1. If a staff/student/volunteer/parent suspects another caregiver in the school of abusing a child(ren) in care, s/he should inform administration of their intention to call a Children’s Aid Society. If the allegations are made by a parent, inform the parent of his/her duty to report to a Children’s Aid Society, and the administration’s obligation to also speak with a child protection worker. The staff person with whom the parent spoke to will immediately inform administration of the parent’s allegation.

2. The staff/student/volunteer making the allegation will follow the reporting procedure outlined above and will complete the necessary documentation.

3. The person suspected of abuse will not be told by anyone about the suspicion, the intention to report or that a report has been made until after the administration has consulted with a Children’s Aid worker for directions.

4. The school administration will consult with a child protection worker as to what, if anything should be done to protect a child(ren) at the school from further contact from the alleged abuser.

5. The administration will notify a program advisor at Children’s Services, within 24 hours of the occurrence, and submit a Preliminary Inquiry Report within 5 working days.

6. The administration will immediately contact the school’s insurance company when abuse by a staff member is suspected.

7. The administration will meet with the suspected person to discuss any procedures for change in duties, responsibilities, etc. The administration will follow-up with a written confirmation of any decisions and the reasons for such, a copy of which is given to the suspected person, and a copy retained on file.

***Any UMCA RICH TREE ACADEMY employee, who commits any of the acts outlined in the child abuse definitions above, will be subject to the following consequence: immediate termination of employment.

When the Children’s Aid Society/Police Conduct an Investigation in the School

When child abuse has been reported, the investigative team may request permission from UMCA RICH TREE ACADEMY to interview a child on the premises. All efforts will be made by staff to cooperate with the police/child protection worker in order for the investigation to be completed in such a way as to provide the least disruption to the day-to-day operations of the school. Should the investigative team’s request to interview the child at the school be refused by the administration for any reason, the child may be apprehended (with or without a warrant) and removed from the school.

1. If the authorities have told any staff/student/volunteer of the intention to come to the school, the administration is to be notified immediately.

2. The administration will arrange for an appropriate private location for the interview to be conducted. When the authorities arrive, the administration will ask for identification upon their arrival.

3. If a Children’s Aid worker/police officer arrives unannounced, the administration will ask for identification and call his/her respective offices to confirm that s/he is a representative of a child protection/police service.

4. The police/child protection worker may determine that it would be in the best interest of the child to conduct an interview without the prior knowledge of, and without the child’s parent(s) present. All staff involved must respect this decision, and not speak to the parent(s) until further notice.

5. The administration will prearrange with the investigative team, if a support person from the school can be present when the child is being interviewed. Any support person who agrees to attend the interview will be reminded by the administration, that s/he may be required to attend and testify in court proceedings related to the case.

6. If, after interviewing a child, the investigative team feels it is necessary to apprehend the child, the administration/staff/volunteers will cooperate. The administration will clarify with the investigative team who will be responsible for contacting the parent(s).

7. The administration will document the names of the investigative team, the date, time, how long the authorities were at the school, any relevant outcome. The documentation will be kept in a secure and fireproof cabinet, separate from the child’s general file.

When the Children’s Aid Society/Police Conduct an Investigative Telephone Inquiry

Should a staff member receive a call from a child protection worker and/or police officer who telephones UMCA RICH TREE ACADEMY to gather information with respect to the protection of a child, that staff person will follow the steps below.

1. Ask the person on the telephone for his/her full name, telephone number and the name of the agency that s/he represents.

2. In order to ensure that the person calling is a child protection worker/police officer, the staff member will inform the person calling that s/he will be called back immediately.

3. The staff member will immediately call the person back, confirming that the telephone number is that of a Children’s Aid Society and/or police division, and that the individual inquiring about the child is a representative of the said agency.

4. A staff member may answer questions posed by a child protection worker/police officer and provide information over the telephone as long as the information is related to suspicions of child abuse and the protection of the child.

5. The staff member is to immediately inform the administration of any telephone conversations that have occurred between the staff member and a child protection worker/police officer.

6. The staff member will document the telephone call, including the date, time and length of the call, and the name of the child protection worker/police officer. All documentation is to be forwarded to the administration to be kept in a secure and fireproof cabinet, separate from the child’s general file.

Further Consultation with a Children’s Aid Society

Further contact with a Children’s Aid Society may be initiated by a member of the administration/staff/student/volunteer in the following circumstances:

• a worker has not responded to the individual’s initial call/message;

• the individual believes that the concerns reported on behalf of the child have not been fully understood by the worker, and a second opinion from a supervisor at the Children’s Aid Society is desired;

• any further suspicions of abuse occur;

• changes in the family situation or that of the alleged abuser are discovered;

• the child or alleged abuser transfers out of the school; and/or

• the child does not return to the school when expected.

The administration will be notified if a staff/student/volunteer re-contacts a Children’s Aid Society. The person who re-contacted a Children’s Aid Society is responsible to complete the documentation.

Confidentiality and Disclosure of Information to Others

Any information related to a suspicion or report of child abuse is confidential between the person directly involved, the person making the report and a Children’s Aid Society. The administration, in consultation with a Children’s Aid Society, will give direction regarding the appropriate sharing of information with staff/student/volunteers. Discussing any information with others related to a situation of suspected child abuse outside the designated individuals is a breach of confidentiality, and may leave you liable for slander.

In a case where a child has been apprehended by a Children’s Aid Society, the administration will speak to a worker to determine whether or not the child will return to the school as scheduled.

The administration will advise the staff, and determine the best way to explain the child’s situation to the other children. This will be done in such a way as to balance the child’s/family’s right to confidentiality with the concerns of others in the school.

Policy Review

The policies and procedures with respect to child abuse will be reviewed annually by the administration, and updated accordingly.

***Revised by U.M.C.A. RICH TREE ACADEMY Administration on Tuesday, March 21st, 2017.***

Suspected Child Abuse Reporting Form

Name of child: _____________________     Date & Time of observation: _________________

Describe in full the incident, situation, statement, or behavioural and/or physical indicators of abuse including dates and times. Describe fully, using the child’s words, the interaction between the child and the person to whom the child disclosed.

Describe fully the physical condition of the child, including injuries, burns, welts, and/or signs of illness. Where appropriate, circle bruises or other injuries on an attached Body Chart.

Describe fully the emotional condition of the child, including behavioural problems, and the child’s response upon disclosure. Are there any noticeable changes in the child’s behaviour patterns?

If known, describe fully the risks of further abuse to the child, including any advice/instructions from a Children’s Aid Society.

Date & Time reported to Children’s Aid Society: _______________________________________

Outcome of Call: ________________________________________________________________

Workers name:  ________________________________________________________________

Phone number:  ________________________________________________________________

Signature of person who made the report: __________________________________________

Date & Time documentation completed: ____________________________________________

Staff/Volunteer Sign-off Sheet

The following persons have read and understand the U.M.C.A. Rich Tree Academy Policies and Procedures Regarding Child Abuse.

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