Child protection

Your early learning service needs to be able to protect children, and to identify, report and respond appropriately to possible dangers.

Level of complianceMain audienceOther

Required

  • All Early Learning Services
  • Educators, Teachers and Kaiako
  • Parents, Caregivers and Whānau

If you're worried about a child

If you believe a child is in immediate danger, phone New Zealand Police on 111.

If you are concerned about the wellbeing of a child, or want to discuss, report, or refer a concern, contact Oranga Tamariki:

See also: Identifying and reporting real or potential cases of harm to children

Your child protection policy

All early learning services, and any person or organisation we contract or fund to provide children’s services, must have a child protection policy (see Part 2 of the Children’s Act(external link)).

A child protection policy outlines how your service will:

  • work to keep children safe from abuse and neglect
  • identify, report, and respond to suspected or real cases of child abuse and neglect.

Your policy must be reviewed at least every three years.

Make sure you’re familiar with this requirement and how to meet it for your service type:

Identifying and responding to child abuse

If you suspect someone of child abuse, you must prevent them from coming into contact with any children at your service. You may need to exclude them from your premises (see Regulation 56(external link)).

Child abuse can be emotional abuse, physical harm, neglect or sexual abuse. It can include:

  • physically ill-treating or abusing a child
  • committing a crime against a child
  • in guiding or controlling a child, subjecting a child to solitary confinement, immobilisation, or depriving a child of food, drink, warmth, shelter or protection.

For information on how to identify, report and respond to real or potentail cases of harm, please see the Identifying and reporting real or potential cases of harm to children section.

Making sure adults with access to children are safe

Safety checking

You must carry out a formal safety check on your children’s workers before they can start work, and then re-check them every three years (see Part 3 of the Children’s Act). Nearly everyone working in your early learning service is considered a children’s worker.

In each safety check, you’ll need to:

  1. Verify the person’s identity (including any previous identities)
  2. Interview them
  3. Get information about their work history
  4. Get information from their referees
  5. Get information from any relevant professional organisation or registration body
  6. Carry out a New Zealand police vet
  7. Carry out a risk assessment.

Make sure you’re familiar with this requirement and how to meet it for your service type:

Police vetting

Police vets, where the New Zealand Police provide you with a person’s criminal record, are one of the requirements of a safety check. However, if you have workers who are not required to undergo a safety check, you must still police vet them to make sure that their criminal history indicates they are safe to be around children before they can start work (see Schedule 4 Clause 2 – 4 of the Education and Training Act(external link)).

Make sure you're familiar with this requirement and how to meet it. You can find more information on safety checking on our website.

Police vetting for early learning services

Protecting children from inappropriate material

You must protect children from exposure to inappropriate material, such as material with an explicitly sexual or violent nature. This includes supervising children’s use of technological media such as television and Internet.

Make sure you’re familiar with this requirement and how to meet it for your service type:

Protecting children from other adults

If someone is physically or mentally unwell

People who are unwell could be unwell physically or mentally. If you suspect someone of being physically or mentally unwell in a way that could pose a risk to children, you must prevent them from coming into contact with any children at your service, which may involve excluding them from your premises (see Regulation 57(external link)):

Physical or mental unwellness includes:

  • any physical or mental condition that could be dangerous (for example, strange or disturbing behaviour, aggression)
  • any infectious or contagious disease or condition (for example, the flu or COVID-19)

If someone is under the influence of alcohol or drugs

You must ensure that no adults in your service community are abusing or are under the influence of alcohol or any other substance that has a detrimental effect on their behaviour or ability to function during service hours (including drop-offs and pick-ups). It applies to any adult in your service community, including any adults living in a home where home-based education and care takes place.

Make sure you’re familiar with this requirement and how to meet it for your service type:

Responding to injury, illness or incident involving a child

First aid qualifications

  • Centre-based services must have one qualified adult first aider present for every 50 children attending
  • Home-based services must have at least one qualified adult first aider present at all times.

Make sure you’re familiar with this requirement and how to meet it for your service type:

You can read more about first aid qualifications on our website.

First aid qualifications for early learning services and kōhanga reo

If there has been serious injury, illness or incident

If there is a serious injury, illness or incident involving a child at your service, you will need to notify us. You may also need to notify Worksafe (for workplace injuries) or the Teaching Council (for teacher misconduct) if necessary.

Make sure you’re familiar with this requirement and how to meet it for your service type:

The Ministry's role in child protection

Our child protection policy

The Ministry of Education has a child protection policy. Our policy encourages a culture of child protection that safeguards and promotes the wellbeing of children.

We are well placed to contribute to the protection of all children and are committed to working with our agency partners to build and promote a culture of child protection. This includes reporting suspected child abuse to Oranga Tamariki and the New Zealand Police.

You can read more about our child protection policy on our website.

Child Protection Policy for the Ministry of Education

Complaints and incidents

All services must develop and display a complaints procedure that parents, whānau, and visitors can see and follow should they wish to make a complaint about the service.

We assess all complaints and incidents we receive to determine possible impacts on children’s education and any risks to child health, safety and wellbeing. We will immediately investigate any complaint or incident that indicates a serious risk to child health, safety and wellbeing.

You can read more about complaints on our website.

Complaints

Identifying and reporting real or potential cases of harm to children

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Who to report to

AGENCY

PHONE NUMBER

INFORMATION

New Zealand Police

 111

If you believe a child is in immediate danger, call NZ Police on 111.

Oranga Tamariki(external link)

0508 EDASSIST (0508 332 774) or email edassist@ot.govt.nz

(this is the dedicated contact for schools and early learning services)

If you are worried about a child or want to discuss, report, or refer a concern, contact Oranga Tamariki.

Healthline(external link)

0800 61 11 16

Healthline can provide you with advice about a child who appears unwell or hurt, or has any symptoms of sickness.

Shine Helpline(external link)

0508 74 46 33

Shine can provide advice and support for anyone seeking information about family harm.

Crimestoppers(external link)

0800 55 51 11

If you have any concerns about reporting a potential case of family harm, Crimestoppers will support you to pass on key information anonymously.

Are You Ok(external link)

0800 456 450

Are You OK helpline will be able to provide information and advice on family violence. As well as referrals to local family violence services.

Safe to Talk(external link) 0800 044 334 or email support@safetotalk.nz Safe to Talk helpline will be able to provide information and advice on sexual harm. As well as referrals to local sexual harm services.

 

Resources and support

LINK

INFORMATION

What to do if you think a child is in danger(external link)

Whether to share information about at-risk children(external link)

Two short (~20-second) videos from the Privacy Commissioner.

Return to School Checklist for Educators(external link)

Five-minute video to help educators identify family harm indicators

Return to School Checklist for Educators(external link)

Two-page factsheet with information for educators

COVID-19 Report a concern(external link)

Short webpage with a contact address for reporting concerns to Oranga Tamariki

Resources for whānau, communities and services during COVID-19(external link)

Links to a variety of pages and links about preventing and responding to whānau and sexual violence during COVID-19

Worried about a child?(external link)

Information about what to report to Oranga Tamariki

How can I tell? Recognising child abuse(external link)

Guidance for keeping children safe

Creating a safe organisation(external link)

A guidance document about developing child protection policies and safe working practices

Handling Disclosures of Child Abuse(external link)

A webpage with information on how to handle disclosures of child abuse

Indicators of Child Abuse(external link)

Webpage outlining indicators for different types of child abuse (emotional, neglect, physical, sexual)

Keeping kids safe and secure(external link)

PDF document to help support whānau to keep children safe from abuse

Family violence and sexual violence prevention(external link)

COVID-19 webpage with links to different organisations to reach out to

Safeguarding Children (external link) Website on child protection training and support
Child Matters(external link) Website on child protection training and resources
Family Services Directory(external link) The Family Services Directory provides information on various family support organisations across the country and the services they offer.

You should also consult your service’s Child Protection Policy.

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