Friday, 20 June 2014

Retaining paperwork – information for childminders

Childminders and historical abuse claims

A lot of childminders question why they have to retain some documentation relating to children until the child is 21 years and 3 months old – or, according to advice from NSPCC, until they are 25. The reason is… historical claims of injuries or allegations of abuse.

Think about all the stories in the media at the moment about historical abuse claims – they are not just against ‘celebrities’ – they are also against teachers and even pre-school staff.
Historical claims might be –
• The child had an accident while in your care which caused a scar – that scar is, at the age of 18, the reason why they have been refused a modelling contract.
• A 20 year old remembers a safeguarding / abuse incident that happened during their early years and goes to a lawyer to make a claim against you.
• A 15 year old has a long term medical condition as a result of an accident, incident or perhaps a medication mistake while in your care.
• A 19 year old still has nightmares because of an incident that happened while in your care. They are told by a lawyer that they can make a claim against you. The law allows claims to be made up to 3 years from the age of majority (which is 18 years old) or ‘the point at which they know they have the right to make a claim’.

To protect yourself…
Robust, clearly written records, signed by parents and stored securely (to comply with Information Commissioner Office guidance) will help you to prove your innocence in the event of a historical claim. Records you should retain securely until the child is 21 years and 3 months old include –
• Accident and first aid forms*
• Medication administration forms*
• Incident records*
• Complaints made against you by parents relating to their child’s care, safety, health etc*
• Physical intervention reports*
• Records of any reportable death, injury, disease or dangerous occurrence* reported to RIDDOR**
• Contracts*
• Permission forms*
• Safeguarding allegations*
• Attendance registers
All forms marked with * must be signed by parents – it is not a requirement for attendance registers to be signed by parents but this remains good practice.
** RIDDOR require records to be retained for 3 years after the date on which it happened.

It is important that you keep the above documentation locked away securely in paper format – remember that, by the time a child is 21 years and 3 months old, current online systems will be out-of-date and will probably not exist!

Child protection records should be kept until the child is 25 years old according to some Local Authorities. However, I have confirmed with insurance that we are not covered beyond the child being 21 years and 3 months old so this is a grey area.

Insurance - the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Regulations 1998 states that PLI documents must be retained for 40 years from date of issue.

What the requirements say
EYFS requirement 3.70 – ‘Records relating to individual children must be retained for a reasonable period of time after they have left the provision.’ A ‘reasonable period of time’ is generally accepted to be 3 years. However, this requirement is superseded by insurance requirements.
Note that ICO guidance states learning and development information including photographs must be given to parents when it is no longer useful to the childminder ie when the child leaves the provision. All childminders who hold information about children and their families on digital media including using mobile phones or cameras to take photos of children, must be registered with the ICO .

Childcare Register requirement CR8 states – ‘Childminders must keep records of the following and retain them for a period of two years:
• The name, home address and date of birth of each child who is looked after on the premises
• The name, home address and telephone number of a parent/guardian/carer of each child who is looked after on the premises
• A daily record of the names of the children looked after on the premises and their hours of attendance
• Accidents which occur on the premises where childcare is provided
• Any medicine administered to any child who is cared for on the premises, including the date and circumstances and who administered it, including medicine which the child is permitted to self-administer, together with a record of a parent/guardian/carer’s consent
• The name, home address and telephone number of every person living or working on the premises on which childcare is provided (or the part of the premises where the childcare is held, in the case of premises such as community/leisure centres, where only parts.’
The Childcare Register covers statutory requirements for children from the ages of 5 to 18 years.

Working with parents - it is important that you inform parents about what information you are keeping about their child, why and where it will be securely stored. You might add a note to your termination letter.

If you have any questions about retaining information about a child you should speak to your insurance company.