Last updated: 01.01.17

Child sexual exploitation and e-safety training now mandatory for children's homes staff

Reacting to a recent census carried out by the UK government on Children's Homes, it was announced last week that child sexual exploitation training and cyberbullying/e-safety training will become mandatory for all workers in children's homes. Staff and managers will require training on spotting the signs of child sexual exploitation and how to act to keep those in their care safe from further abuse. They will also need to be trained on how to keep children in their care safe online and what actions they should take if a child is a victim of cyberbullying.

If staff do not have the relevant qualifications they will have two years (three for managers) to acquire them. This includes a relevant NVQ. Care staff will require an NVQ level 3, whilst managers will need to acquire an NVQ level 5.

The census, the first of its kind in fact, estimated that just over 20,000 people are working in the children's homes sector. Just over half of the registered managers that responded (54%) stated that they found it 'difficult' to recruit staff that had the relevant training and correct skill level. All of the homes that responded had a training plan and a system for continuous personal development (CPD) in place. Around 75% have a budget for CPD, whilst the vast majority (98%) have a formal appraisal system.

The government has also this month released research conducted by the Department for Education into training provided by children's homes to their staff. It found that staff were given two categories of training, mandatory/core training, which was required for any of the jobs within the sector, and extra training, which focused more on specialised areas to cater to individual needs.

Mandatory/Core training was usually undertaken during a member of staff's induction and generally refreshed regularly. The research found that the training often covered the following areas:

  • Safeguarding or child protection
  • First aid and medication
  • Behaviour Management
  • Health and safety
  • Fire safety
  • Equality and diversity
  • Food and hygiene

The research also found that some homes offered additional training in attachment theory, child exploitation and online safety.

Training was seen as essential for developing children's homes staff's skills, individually, as a team and supporting those that are in their care. As looking after vulnerable children is a specialised role, it is necessary for staff to have access to a complete rolling training programme which equips staff with the necessary skills to meet the needs of those in their care.

Finally, the research found that the majority of staff thought that relevant training during an induction period was crucial. They suggested that training in safeguarding was an absolute minimum. First aid training, medication awareness and food hygiene were also seen as crucial training.