Good, up to date record keeping of concerns and action taken is essential to help identify causes for concern at an early stage. Often it is only when a number of seemingly minor issues are taken as a whole that any general welfare or child protection concern becomes clear. Effective record keeping helps settings monitor and manage their safeguarding practices and in any inspection it is vital evidence of robust and effective safeguarding policy and practice.
As a trainer, I am often hearing about new innovations when it comes to safeguarding. Recently I have been hearing from a number of enthusiastic people about a new way of recording and reporting concerns using a new software system called ‘MyConcern’. It was developed a few years ago by software engineers in partnership with the Police and other safeguarding consultants in Dorset and users are apparently finding it extremely useful.
The idea is this: the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) has overall control of the software system and can receive an electronic update instantly at any time from any enabled device (laptop, mobile) which any staff member holds at any time. The DSL therefore holds all records confidentially online in one place, and it is easy and secure to share records with other staff, partners and referral organisations. The software was designed primarily for educational settings and is especially useful where staff work with children in a variety of locations.
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More about effective safeguarding record keeping
However they are brought to the attention of DSL, all child safeguarding records should be:
- clear, straightforward and avoid jargon
- named in print and signed
- presented chronologically
- differentiate between facts, opinion, judgments and hypothesis
- written with a mind that the subject of a record does have the right in law to request access to them at any stage.
Any staff member or volunteer who has any kind of concern relating to the abuse of children must make an accurate record as soon as possible. The record should explain:
- What was seen: when and where (this includes a site map indicating the position of any bruises or marks seen on the child/young person, trying to indicate size, colour and shape)
- What was said: when, where and who to
- A note of any other people involved e.g as witnesses
- What was said to the staff member: when, where and who by
- What the staff member thought and why they thought it
- What the staff member did; and
- Any other relevant information
All child welfare records should be kept in one central and secure location separately from general information kept about the child. A discreet note should be made in the child’s general information file that there is confidential safeguarding information kept on file about them.