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Vulnerable Children Act 2014

The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 – what does this mean for LEOTC providers?

 

The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 (VCA) came into effect on 1 July 2014 and has made significant changes to the way we protect children. The VCA introduces new requirements for organisations funded by state services that employ or contract people to work with children – this means LEOTC programmes are included.

 

There are two key parts of the VCA which may have an impact on your organisation and you will need to consider what they mean for you and your staff:

 

Safety Checking

Safety checking will make it easier to identify the small number of people who are a risk to children. The new safety checking requirements for people who work with children are being phased in over several years to give the children’s workforce time to comply. 

Responsibility for safety checking employees or contractors always rests with the employer or contracting organisation. This includes determining which of their workers are children’s workers, and then which of those children’s workers are core workers and non-core workers. 

  • Core children’s workers are paid or funded by state sector agencies and work alone with, or have primary responsibility or authority over, children.
  • Non-core children’s workers are paid or funded by state sector agencies and have regular, but limited, child contact – we expect most, if not all, LEOTC educators and their staff to fit within this category.

 

The timeline for all children’s workers to be safety checked is (with those dates that will affect LEOTC providers bolded):

 

1 July 2015 – all new state-funded core workers need to be safety checked before starting work in a new role 

1 July 2016 – all new state-funded non-core workers need to be safety checked before starting work in a new role 

1 July 2018 – all existing state funded core workers need to have been safety checked by this date 

1 July 2019 – all existing state-funded non-core workers need to have been safety checked by this date

 

Please be aware that schools or ECE services may ask you for confirmation that your staff have been appropriately safety checked.

You may also have volunteers working in or for your organisation. Volunteers (as unpaid workers) are not required to be safety checked under the new VCA requirements. We do, however, encourage you as best practice to safety check those volunteers who are likely to be alone with children.

A guidance document has been prepared to support organisations to implement safety checking, including how encourage volunteers to participate in the safety checking process. This document and further information can be found on the Children’s Action Plan Directorate website and the Ministry of Education’s website.

The VCA has also introduced a workforce restriction that prohibits people with certain criminal convictions from working alone with children, or having primary authority or responsibility for children. These particular convictions are specified in the VCA and will show up on children’s worker’s Police vet. The workforce restriction is being phased in and applies to new core workers from 1 July 2015, and existing core workers from 1 July 2016. The VCA sets out what employers will need to do if an existing employee is affected by the VCA from 1 July 2016. 

People who are affected by the workforce restriction can apply for an exemption from the restriction. It is important to note that it is illegal to hire anyone in a core worker role (in line with the timeframes) if they have a conviction for one of the specified offences and do not hold a workforce exemption. More information on the workforce restriction and exemption can be found on the Children’s Action Plan Directorate website.

  

Child Protection Policies

Having a high-quality child protection policy (CCP) is part of building good practices to keep children safe, and to ensure that suspected and potential child abuse and neglect are identified and responded to appropriately. 

The Ministry of Education, ECE services and any of their contracted providers need to have a CPP in place as soon as possible. Schools and their contracted providers have until 1 July 2016 to have a CPP in place. The requirement for your organisation to have a CPP should be included in any contract you have with a state-funded service (see page 12, appendix 6) for providing children’s services in line with the timeframes above. 

Your CPP should cover the children’s services that your organisation provides and contain provisions on identifying and reporting abuse and neglect. It should also respond to the specific context and needs of your organisation. Your organisation’s CPP needs to be written and you will need to review it every three years. 

Guidelines to help you work through the process of preparing your CPP and further information can be found on the Children’s Action Plan Directorate website and the Ministry of Education’s website.

 

For further information

We strongly recommend you read the document found at: http://www.childrensactionplan.govt.nz/assets/CAP-Uploads/childrens-workforce/20150528-Safety-checking-factsheet-and-QnAs.pdf

 

If you have any remaining questions around the Vulnerable Children Act, you are welcome to contact Verena at NZCER or contact the Ministry’s project team at ssci.programme@education.govt.nz

  

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