Under new legislation childcare providers must carry out disqualification checks to ensure the suitability of employees
What are Childcare Disqualification checks?
Childcare disqualification checks came into place under the Childcare Act 2006. This puts a duty on all those working with children to sign a declaration clearing them to work with children. This declaration includes the practitioners details and asks for the details of anyone who lives in the same house as them. This enables Early Years settings and schools to be aware of any childcare disqualification details of anyone who has direct or indirect contact with the children. The Disqualification under the Childcare Act 2016 statutory guidance states that providers must “ensure that they are not knowingly employing a person who is disqualified under the 2009 Regulations in connection with relevant childcare provision.” The guidance dictates that some employees such as agency staff, cleaners, cooks or office staff; those who do not usually have direct contact with the children, are not covered under the legislation however it is good practice to ensure the whole staff team is checked.
How are settings carrying out the checks?
According to the Disqualification under the Childcare Act 2006 statutory guidance, it is down to the provision to decide how to gather this information to safeguard the children and respect the privacy of their employees. It is the responsibility of the setting to ensure all employees are made aware of the legislation and also that they may be disqualified by association if anyone in their household is disqualified. Many settings have now asked their employees to complete a self-completion form that enables them to give details of them and anyone living in their house and it asks them to sign a declaration stating if they are or are not disqualified under the legislation.
Settings should also use their policies and procedures to ensure a safer recruitment process is happening within the setting and that all relevant details such as Disclosure Barring Service numbers and references are followed up prior to offering a job acceptance. Employees are required to notify their employer of any convictions, including those that are spent. There are some convictions that are protected under law and employees will not need to declare these; however the majority of offences that lead to disqualification under the 2009 Regulations will never become protected, which means that they must always be disclosed by a member of staff employed to work in relevant childcare, and they will not be filtered from the DBS certificate. It is then down to the discretion of the employer, on the suitability of the employee to continue working with children.
What are the barriers for settings and employees when carrying out childcare disqualification checks?
There are barriers for settings to overcome to gain information on employees under the legislation. Employers must be careful in the way they ask questions relating to employees personal life, in breach of data protection. The setting must also state that the information given about someone who lives or is employed in their household, is best to their knowledge.
It can also be difficult for employers to gain a true reflection of information as employees may choose not to declare convictions that have occurred since the setting gained the employees DBS certificate. These can be viewed and regularly updated if the update service is chosen by the setting; however this does cost extra, and many settings may not be financially able to do so.
Often the childcare disqualification forms are completed once and then it can be difficult to update regularly with any changes to living arrangements, new convictions, etc. This can be overcome by placing a declaration statement in the supervision and appraisal forms, placing a duty on employees to tell employers of any changes that may affect their ability to work with children.
It is childcare providers responsibility to ensure these childcare disqualification forms are completed, this is it safeguard children and adults.