“Duty of Care” is an obligation to ensure that children in your care are not harmed physically, emotionally or mentally. This involves giving suitable attention, looking out for potential hazards, preventing mistakes or accidents, and making informed choices about steps undertaken in your work role.
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is the structure which gives assurance to parents and carers that the early years setting which they have chosen will keep their children safe and help them to develop to their full potential. The overall aim of the EYFS is to help young children achieve the five Every Child Matters outcomes (staying safe, being healthy, enjoying and achieving, having a positive influence and achieving economic wellbeing) by improving quality and consistency in the early year’s sector through a set of standards which apply to all settings.
Every child should be supported and enabled to live in an environment which is free from prejudice and safe from abuse. Your responsibilities under the duty of care are to do everything reasonable within the description of your job role to make this happen. Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (2012 section 3, 3.1) states that “Children learn best when they are healthy, safe and secure, when their individual needs are met, and when they have positive relationships with the adults caring for them”. How duty of care contributes to the safeguarding or protection of individuals
In your role you have a duty of care to raise any concerns you may have about any aspect of your work. These can range from inadequate working conditions, poor equipment, poor practice by other staff; to raising concerns about potential abuse cases and situations of neglect.
It is your duty of care to safeguard individuals from harm. All employees should report any concerns of abuse they have. These might include evidence or suspicions of bad practice by colleagues and managers, or abuse by another individual, another worker or an individual’s family or friends.
In your work with young children, you safeguard children in various ways such as:
* Carrying out risk assessment in your setting and taking precautions to avoid potential hazards which could lead to the children being harmed – either through accidents or the spreading of infection. * Setting clear expectations and limits for children’s behaviour, and using approaches to discourage unwanted behaviour which could harm or distress others, according to the development stage of each child. * Observing children and gauging their development, being alert to any signs that their progress is not meeting the development stage expected for children of their age, so that appropriate action can be taken and shared by parents and other professionals. * Being aware of the ways children can be abused by others, being aware of the signs that a child may be experiencing harm, and following appropriate procedure if abuse is suspected.
If you do not work in this way, this could be considered as negligence or incompetence. If you are in any doubt at any time, you must discuss any issues you have with your supervisor / manager.
Potential conflicts or dilemmas that may arise between the duty of care and an individual’s rights
The physical layout and organisation of the setting must keep children safe and secure. However, it is important to find a balance between safety and risk taking in opportunities for children to explore their surroundings. When children are placed in an environment which has been made too safe, they might not get the stimulation they require which comes from challenging themselves and may not develop the ability to assess risks and make their own judgements. A suitably safe and secure environment...