HostlinkUK Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy

Hostlink recognises their responsibility to safeguard children and young people while staying in Host-Link homestay accommodation. This policy exists to give guidelines to all staff and homestay hosts and volunteers. We will ensure we provide a safe and supportive environment for all international young learners staying in homestays and implement procedures for identifying and reporting cases, or suspected cases, of harm or abuse.

Hostlink firmly believes in Duty of Care, there is a legal responsibility that adults who work with children as professionals or volunteers have a duty to look after them properly; children depend on adults for their safety and well-being. It is their duty to safeguard and to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm. It is their duty to caring for children appropriately and protecting them from that which is not in their best interests; as such, it includes health and safety, child protection and pastoral care.

● To provide protection for children and young people who stay with Host-Link’s homestay hosts.
● To provide guidance and procedures for response to welfare and safeguarding concerns to staff and homestay hosts

Suitability check
We will seek to safeguard children and young people by ensuring appropriate vetting takes place of all homestay hosts. Host-Link UK follows best practice according to British Council guidelines and all Homestay hosts are required to apply via an application form, providing details of all Homestay accommodation occupants. In support of the application, the hosts must provide:
●Proof of identity and address
●Criminal record check (DBS)
● References (provided by 2 no-family referees)
● All appointed homestays hosts (and other adults in the home) should be aware of the Host-Link UK organisation’s safeguarding policy and relevant code of conduct.
● The main carer is required to complete and sign a Child Protection Declaration (Children Act 1989 and Protection of Children Act 1999) for hosting young people under the age of 18 as well as Homestay General Service agreement.
● Homestay hosts are visited and checked every two years by the Accommodation Officer to ensure the environment is appropriate.
● A Fire Risk Assessment will be sent to host families once a year and should be carried out before they host any students.

* DBS check applies only to families which are interested in hosting under 18s and it needs to be renewed every 3 years. From January 2018 all adults in the household are also required to be incorporated into checks. 1 Therefore, the main carer (the applicant) must tick the ‘Working at home address’ box (box 66 on the DBS’s own application form) to ensure that the police can also inform Host-Link if any adults resident at or closely associated with the address are deemed unsuitable to work with under 18s. Existing DBS certificates if dated in the last 12 months can also be checked and reviewed for
suitability. Host-Link will also check list 99 if needed to satisfy safeguarding requirements.

Homestay hosts duties
● Ensure a comfortable and safe living environment throughout their stay.
● Ensure that you avoid making yourself vulnerable to suspicion of any form of abuse.
● Maintaining relationships with students at an appropriate level.
● Duty to report any suspicions of abuse (physical, sexual, emotional or neglect).
●The homestay host and any member of their household over the age of 16 may be also subject to DBS checked.
● Report any suspicions of students being radicalised. 2
● Acting promptly and professionally to any concerns

How to identify abuse
Abuse is a term used to describe a range of ways in which one person harms in some way another. It can be difficult to identify abuse, but below are some ways it can be identified:
● An individual telling someone they are being abused.
● Another student telling you of their concern about a friend or fellow student.
● Unexplained injuries with no satisfactory explanation for their cause.
● Difficulty in making friends or socialising.
● Personality changes and behavioral changes (eating disorders, being aggressive, being disruptive, self-harm, being inattentive, homesickness)

How to react if you suspect abuse
● Remain calm and listen to the individual without interrupting.
● Make it clear that you are taking them seriously.
● Reassure them that they should not feel guilty and let them know you are going to do everything you can to help them.
● Accept what is said. It is not for you to decide whether or not a suspicion or allegation is true.
● Advise them that you have to pass the information on and whom you have to tell.
● Make a note of what was said, who was present, and pass this information on. Use the child’s own words or explanations.

Procedure for reporting allegations or suspicions of abuse
●“PREVENT” (Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015): a government initiative to try and reduce the likelihood of people supporting terrorism or becoming terrorists. It also aims to reduce the risk of radicalisation happening within institutions. “Prevent” refers to all ages, not just students under 18.
● Concerns about the well-being of a child should be discussed with the Accommodation Officer who has a responsibility to ensure that the child’s needs are met whilst living with the family.
● Host-Link will act promptly and deal with any suspicions or allegations made. The School organization, parents, LADO and the police will be informed of any allegations of serious harm or abuse by any person living or working with or looking after children.

Care of students under 18
There will be policies and procedures, known to all students and staff, for dealing with abusive behaviour by staff or students (verbal abuse, harassment, bullying, actual or threatened violence, damage to personal property), or behaviour that may lead to extremist radicalisation. Students should be made aware (in an age-appropriate way) that they should report any behaviour which makes them uncomfortable or upset, and should know who they can talk to if they have concerns.
●Provision will be made for the safety and security of students appropriate to their age, background and the location of the provider.
● Hosts and group leaders need to be aware of the rules for what students may do outside the scheduled activity times, and particularly what time they are expected to return for meals and at night.
● A responsible adult (known to and vetted by the provider) will always be present overnight and normally be present when students under 16 are at home.
● Students under 16 should not be lodged with students of 18 years or older unless requested by parents.
● Learners below the age of 16 will not be permitted to live alone without written parental/ guardian/agent consent. They will be placed in pairs with youngest learners located near to the school as possible.
● Homestay hosts are asked to bring all young learners 12-16 olds into school on the first day.
● Daily pick-up and drop-off by homestay hosts can be organised at one meeting point for young learners.
● Curfews will be in place. Under 16’s will not be allowed out in the evening and should arrive back by dinner time no later than 8pm. Parental permission maybe given for 16-17 year olds: back by 10pm Mon- Friday Weekends: back by 11pm
● Arrangements will be made to allow students for contact with parents
● Host-Link will provide pastoral care and 24-hour emergency phone number alongside the school emergency number.

Homestay Accommodation Officer duties
There will be a safeguarding policy which specifies procedures to ensure the safety and well- being of all students under the age of 18. A named member of staff will be responsible for implementing this policy and responding to child protection allegations. Any complaints or concerns about Homestay hosts can be made to Host-Link and will be immediately investigated by the Safeguarding Officer and appropriate action taken. If deemed necessary, the homestay host will cease to be used by Host-Link. Any interaction with students i.e. telephone calls or visits will be logged by Host-Link and appropriately followed up if required.
● The Host-Link Safeguarding Policy and Code of Conduct is circulated to all staff and is covered at the induction when employment commences.
● Host-Link staff is given the training to ensure they recognise the symptoms of abuse (physical, sexual, emotional and neglect) and how they should respond to such abuse.
● At least one designated Safeguarding Officer is available for staff to refer to.
● Host-Link will gain feedback via a form from their learners as to their experience in a homestay.
● It is expected that the school will also check verbally or through feedback that learners are happy with their homestays.
● Policy reviewed on an annual basis, or more frequently if deemed necessary.

Record keeping and confidentiality
All records, information, and confidential notes are kept in separate files in a locked cabinet accessible only by the Safeguarding Officers.

Safe working practice for staff and homestay providers
●All members of staff and homestay hosts should ensure that they avoid making themselves vulnerable to suspicion of any form of abuse by maintaining relationships with their students at an appropriate level. Staff should follow the code of conduct and abusive behaviour guidelines and procedures set out in the company handbook. Guidance is provided to homestay providers by the Accommodation Officer. If a member of staff or homestay provider is accused of abuse,  management will investigate and resolve where appropriate. The member of staff will be suspended from employment while a full investigation takes place, and if necessary, disciplinary hearing takes place in accordance with company policy.
● As an organisation which deals with students, Host-Link ensures that staff is aware of their responsibilities under Child Protection legislation and our procedures relating to staff receives training at induction.

Private Fostering
●Local council children’s services will be notified if a child under the age of 16 (18 if disabled) lives with a local family for more than 28 days, and for the homestay host to be assessed by a visit to the placement and talk with the child within 7 days of placement. It is an offense not to notify the local council of a private fostering arrangement. This is in order to safeguard and protect the child’s welfare and provide appropriate support and help to the child, carer, and parent.
● Host-Link operates a policy of not providing accommodation to students under the age of 16 for more than 28 days.

Last updated March 2020
Next review March 2021

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