It is very important that you carefully consider the suitability of the services which you or your children would like to use. When you decide to contact a service take some time to find out about them to make sure they are safe to use.
A good organisation will welcome questions about their services and activities and the safety of their environment.
Do staff and volunteers have DBS checks? Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks are now called Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks. These check that staff have no previous offences that would stop them working with, or having access to children, young people or vulnerable adults
Staff and volunteers How are staff recruited? What are their qualifications and training? Is the training appropriate to their role? What ongoing training do they receive? What are the managerial and supervision arrangements?
Does the service belong to a professional organisation/body or quality assurance scheme? Ask for the details and check these with the organisation or scheme
What policies do they have? Safeguarding policy, Child Protection, Use of the internet, First Aid, Health and Safety, Complaints?
Is there a commitment to equal opportunities and anti-discriminatory practice? How do staff ensure that all users are included and feel comfortable?
Does the service welcome and support additional needs and disabilities? All services should make reasonable adjustments to support disability and any special needs. However you may want to know what adjustments they will make and what they will do to support the child or young person to be included.
What are the arrangements if children go on outings? You should be informed of arrangements, including transport to and from, for every outing no matter how long or short, and your consent should be requested.
Visit the setting or group before you start using them regularly. Ask for references or try and speak to other people using the service. If your children are using a service ask them questions about their activities and listen to any concerns they may have
Ofsted registration - Service and activities registered with Ofsted applies to childcare providers or other supervised activities for children or young people.
The Early Years Register is for those looking after children 5 years and under and the Compulsory Childcare Register for those looking after children aged 5 to 7. These childcare providers are looking after the child outside of the child’s home such as childminders, Day Nurseries and Pre-schools
The Voluntary Ofsted Register allows providers who do not need to register to register by choice. These include those who provide care for children aged eight and over in out-of-school clubs, holiday clubs, playschemes, play-centres, activity-based care such as sports, drama, language or arts club. It is also for those who provide care in the child’s own home such as nannies and au pairs
If a setting is registered with Ofsted they will have a Unique Reference Number with which you can Find an Ofsted inspection report
Warning: Services and activities whether they are run by an individual or a group are not required to register with Ofsted when caring for children aged 8 and over and may not be regulated. Some records listed on this site may fall into this category so make sure you ask questions and you are happy that your child will be safe while they attend.
Other organisational accreditation bodies and quality assurance schemes
Depending on what the service offers it may be accredited in some way. This generally means that the service has made a commitment to a set of standards and officially recognises someone as having a particular status or are qualified to perform a particular activity.
If you want to find out more about the accreditation schemes they are signed up to you would need to contact the accrediting body which should be available as a link from the service / activity providers’ website. If the activity or service does not have a website you should still be able to look up the accreditation scheme online. Do not take it for granted that because they say they are accredited that they are.
Counselling and psychotherapy Most reputable and trained counsellors are registered and/or accredited with a professional body a list of a few of these are available below. Find out more about counselling
- British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
- British Psychological Council (BPS)
- British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP)
Being a charity does not reflect that the activity or service is quality assured, only that it is registered as a charity. Charities exists only for the public benefit any other benefit the company gets from the charitable activities must be incidental. The charity's objectives will be set out in their policies. An overview of the charities details and their objectives are available at Charity Commission - Find a Charity
- Activities where parents are discouraged from staying to watch or become involved. Of course there are exceptions where a child is seen one to one with a professional such as a counsellor. Counselling is also confidential so you may not be told what it is that your child and the counsellor talk about.
- Behaviour or activities that encourage rough play, sexual innuendo or humiliating punishments.
- Individuals who take charge and operate independently of organisational guidelines.
- Individuals who show favouritism or personally reward specific children.
- Encouragement of inappropriate physical contact.
- Poor communication and lack of parental involvement, leaving you feeling uneasy.
- Children who drop out or stop going for no apparent reason.
- Invitations for children to spend time alone with staff or volunteers (or even to visit their home).
Listen to your children and ask questions about the activities they take part in. If you think that a child or young person is at risk from abuse, neglect or suspect any form of ill treatment, you can:
Get a police check on someone involved with a child
If you are worried about someone in your child’s life, you can get them checked by the police to see if they have a record of child sexual offences. Find out what you need to do to get someone checked www.gov.uk/police-check-someone-involved-with-child
Report your concerns
- Call Children’s Services on 020 8583 6600 option 1 - Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Out of hours (after 5pm weekdays or weekends) call 020 8583 2222 and ask to speak to the duty social worker
- Call the police
It is important to act fast if you suspect abuse as some signs of abuse can disappear quickly. You do not have to give your name and your conversation will be treated confidentially.
If you are uncertain, you might find it helpful to discuss your worries with someone you know who works with children and families. This could be a teacher, school nurse, health visitor or social worker.
If you want to make a complaint about the service you or your child gets at a service or activity ask for a copy of the complaints policy. The policy will have the procedure you will need to follow.
Be clear about your complaint • What went wrong • What should have happened • The impact on you and your family • What policy or procedure has not been followed and why (if known) • How they can put it right • The outcome you want
After following the procedures set out in their policy or if you are not happy with the response you may want to speak with any governing body or accredited bodies associated with them. You can also get legal advice from the Hounslow Citizen Advice Bureau.
If your complaint is because your child was put in danger, hurt or abused:
- Call Children’s Services on 020 8583 6600 (option 1)
- Email: email@example.com
- Out of hours (after 5pm weekdays or weekends) call 020 8583 2222 and ask to speak to the duty social worker.
- Or call the police