Early Childhood Education: Child Protection

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Every child has the right to a full and productive life. Under the national framework for Protecting Australia’s Children (2009), protecting children is everyone’s responsibility: Parents, communities, governments and businesses all have a role to play. Children’s services have an important part to play in protecting children who may be at risk of harm or illness. Educators have a duty of care to protect and preserve the safety, health and wellbeing of all children in their care and must always act in their best interests. Policies have been developed at a local, state and federal level to provide a foundation for improving and maintaining the safety and wellbeing of Australia’s young people. The purpose of this report is to analyse six of these policies effectively fostering children’s wellness at a physical and emotional level. The policies have been sourced from, and are underpinned by the following policies and legislation: A local early childhood kindergarten and long day care centre service policies The Children, Youth and Families Act (2005)

National framework for Protecting Australia’s Children (2009) The Children’s Services Act (1996)
Aboriginal Cultural Competence Framework (2008)

Values that underpin these policies:
Each of the six policies selected specifically addresses educator interest and is a key facet of the service, state and federal policy and legislation. Collectively the policies attend to and interpret issues of children’s safety, stability and development. In other words, when policy development was occurring due consideration and value was given to child safety, stability of relationships in a stable environment, child development, and child health and wellbeing. These dimensions of safety, stability, development and wellbeing are understood in the context of whom the child is; that is their age and stage, identity and their culture. These elements concerning the identity of the child are fundamental to two of the six policies. The Aboriginal Cultural Competence Framework and ‘Day and Nights childcare and Kindergarten (DNCK)’ service Diversity and Equity policy reflect a strong sense of social justice, fairness and equity, and furthermore are free from prejudice. They both value the child as a whole, advocating for all children’s rights. It is not a question of being ‘politically correct’ but rather respecting the unique identity of each and every child. Similarly part 1.2- principles ‘The decision makers to have regard to principles’ of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005, place significant value to protecting and promoting the cultural and spiritual identity of children, and whenever possible, maintaining and building children’s connections to their family and community. As advocated for in the ‘Early years Learning Framework’, knowing where and with whom you belong (identity, stability, and wellbeing) is integral to human existence (2009). Focusing more on children’s wellbeing, that is the child’s physical and emotional wellbeing, the DNCK ‘Child protection policy’ and the ‘Child protection policy’ sourced from Protecting the safety and wellbeing of children and young people, reinforce and emphasise that all children need stable, sensitive, simulating relationships and environments in order to reach their full potential. The nucleus of both policies is the child and in order to see to the needs of the child each policy has placed a well-founded and substantial value on the role of educators, stating “the role of staff member in children’s services is to protect, nurture, recognise and support the needs of children in their care” (Protecting the safety and wellbeing of children and young people, 2010, p19). Educators have an ethical responsibility and a duty of care to see that this is done. Furthermore qualified teachers (Degree qualified or higher) are mandated, therefore are legally responsible for the care and protection of children within their care. In addition...
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