Safeguarding Children in the Voluntary and Private Sector

Voluntary organisations and private sector providers play an important role in delivering services for children and young people, including in early-years and day care provision, family support services, youth work and children's social care and healthcare.

Many voluntary organisations are skilled in preventative work, and may be well placed to reach the most vulnerable children, young people and families. Voluntary organisations also deliver advocacy for looked after children and young people, and for parents and children who are the subject of s47 enquiries and child protection conferences. They offer, for example:

  • Therapeutic work with children, young people and families, particularly in relation to child sexual abuse
  • Specialist support and services for children and young people with disabilities or health problems
  • Services for children abused through prostitution and for children who abuse other children.

Some voluntary organisations operate free 24-hour national helplines. ChildLine is a national service for all children and young people who need advice about abuse, bullying and other concerns. The NSPCC is a specialist child protection agency that operates helplines and other services throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Its national child protection helpline provides advice to adults and children about child protection concerns. Parentline Plus offers support to anyone parenting a child. These services, along with many other smaller helplines, provide important routes into statutory and voluntary services.

Voluntary organisations also play a key role in providing information and resources to the wider public about the needs of children and young people, and resources to help families. Many campaign on behalf of groups on specific issues.

The NSPCC is the only voluntary organisation authorised to initiate proceedings to protect children under the terms of the Children Act 1989, but other voluntary organisations often play a key role in implementing child protection plans.

The voluntary sector is active in working to safeguard the children and young people with whom it works. A range of umbrella and specialist organisations, including the national governing bodies for sports, offer standards, guidance, training and advice for voluntary organisations on keeping children and young people safe from harm. For example, the Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU), established in partnership with the NSPCC and Sport England, provides advice and assistance on developing codes of practice and child protection procedures to sporting organisations.

For further information about voluntary and private organisations within Staffordshire please follow the link to: Staffordshire Council of Voluntary Youth Services @ www.staffscvys.org.uk