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500: Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention

Date: September 29, 2021

Responsible Administrator: Associate Superintendent, Education Services


PURPOSE

Children, as a matter of right, should be safe, secure and adequately cared for at home, at school and in the community.

The school has a responsibility to protect the confidentiality, safety and well-being of students where access by outside agencies for investigative purposes is required.

While parents/guardians have primary responsibility to ensure the welfare of their children, the helping professions and community institutions such as schools, human services, medical services, police and the courts have particular responsibility beyond that of citizens to safeguard children from abuse and neglect.

Under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, staff are obliged to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect to appropriate authorities and, also, to cooperate as necessary with Children's Services, police and medical services in the investigation of alleged child abuse and neglect.

PROCESS

School principals shall ensure that all school personnel and volunteers understand system expectations, prescribed behaviors by adults, and the physical, behavioral and emotional indicators of child abuse and neglect.

Obligation to Report

The Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act outlines the legal obligation to report suspected neglect or abuse to the Children's Services Authority.

Obligation to Cooperate with Investigation

School system staff have a legal obligation and moral responsibility to work collaboratively with those involved in investigating alleged cases of child abuse or neglect.

PROCEDURE

1. Reporting

1.1 Internal Reporting

1.1.1 Any staff member having reasonable and probable grounds to believe that a student has been subjected to abuse or neglect, or who is concerned about abuse or neglect of a student, may consult with their Principal, the Vice Principal, their school counsellor, the system psychologist, or the Director of Learning Support.

1.1.2 It is possible that allegations of child abuse may be made against teachers or other school personnel. In all such cases, the Principal and the Associate Superintendent shall be informed, whether the report originates in the school or elsewhere.

1.1.3 If a staff member has reported suspected abuse or neglect of a child and remains uncertain of the child’s safety following the report, they may pass information on to the Director of Learning Support who may contact the appropriate Children's Services Director.

1.2 External Reporting

1.2.1 The staff member who has received the report has the legal obligation to contact the appropriate authorities of Children’s Services. When such a report is made to Children's Services, the staff member must inform the Principal that a report has been made.

1.2.2 The Principal or designate shall ensure that a record of each report to Children's Services is recorded on the Confirmation of Report to Alberta Children's Services form. This form shall be stored confidentially in a counselling file and a copy submitted to the Director, Learning Support and not in the Cumulative Record.

1.2.3 Knowledge of a suspected case of child abuse or neglect is confidential and the details of a report to Child, Youth and Family Services shall be restricted to the staff member initiating the report and the school professionals they consulted within 1.1.1. Information should be disclosed in a manner that balances the safety of a child with confidentiality.

2. Cooperation with Investigation – Refer to AP505 Agencies Interviewing Students at School

2.1 Access to Students

2.1.1 The Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act mandates investigation of suspected child abuse or neglect and provides authority for Children's Services workers and peace officers to enter schools. Access to students for investigative purposes is required where the student is an alleged victim of abuse or neglect. Investigators are expected to consider the convenience of school and student when negotiating a time for access.

3. Investigative Interviews with School Staff

3.1 Children's Services or police authorities, investigating a complaint of child abuse or neglect from whatever source, may wish to interview teachers or other school personnel having regular contact with the student or having other specific information pertinent to the investigation. The Principal will assist the investigators by identifying and facilitating these contacts.

4. Child Personal Safety Education

4.1 Principals of primary schools shall ensure implementation of the Safety and Responsibility outcomes from the Health & Life Skills program of studies.


References:

Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act
Children's Services & Law Enforcement Disclosure Form
Confirmation of Report to Alberta Children's Services Form