Children’s workers are a valuable part of our society. They provide care and support to our youngest generation and it’s vital that they do so in a skilled and risk-free manner.
To this end, the Children’s Worker Safety Check ensures that the adults who are entrusted with our children will act in their best interests. So let’s look at this check in more detail.
What is the Children’s Worker Safety Check?
Simply put, the Children’s Worker Safety Check is a screening initiative under The Vulnerable Children Act 2014. The check is used to identify people who pose a risk to children and stop them from working with kids in a care or support role.
Together with child protection policies, the safety check is part of the government’s Children’s Action Plan, which aims to ‘develop a safe and competent children’s workforce who can better identify, support and protect vulnerable children.’
Who should undergo a Children’s Worker Safety Check?
Subject to a phasing in process (see below), the safety check applies to all paid employees and contractors who work with children (up to the age of 17) in state-funded organisations. It also relates to unpaid students and trainees who are working with children as part of their education/training.
The children’s workforce is large and varied, however, some key places where the Children’s Worker Safety Check applies are:
- Early childhood services, including kindergartens, home-based services, education and care centres, and parent-led centres employing staff
- Publicly funded out-of-school care and recreational services
- Organisations providing services to education providers such as school bus services
- Public hospitals and other publicly-funded health service providers
It’s worth noting that businesses, unfunded non-government organisations and voluntary organisations aren’t required to safety check their children’s workers. However, they are encouraged to do so voluntarily.
What does the Children’s Worker Safety Check involve?
This check involves the gathering and evaluation of information to see if a person poses a risk to the kids they’re working with.
There are a variety of different checks that may apply, and new workers have to undergo more checks (before starting their role) than existing workers.
Overall, Children’s Worker Safety Checks can include:
- Identity verification
- Police vetting
- Reference checks both professional or personal
- Employment verification check
- Professional membership checks such as registration bodies or licensing authorities
- Risk assessments
To see what checks apply to different children’s workers, see CV Check’s webpage.
What role does CV Check play with Children’s Worker Safety Checks?
CV Check (NZ) Ltd has been chosen by the Ministry of Education as an approved screening service for the early learning sector (along with other sectors).
For a fee, they complete independent safety checks and provide each applicant with a report, detailing the outcome of their Children’s Worker Safety Check. This report is either a clearance to work with children or a notice of failure (which can be appealed).
How is the Children’s Worker Safety Check being phased in?
The government’s safety checking regulations were introduced under The Vulnerable Children Act 2014, and since 1 July 2015, there has been a phasing in process to allow organisations enough time to safety check new and existing employees.
- Currently: all new employees and contractors who work with children for state-funded organisations in New Zealand must be safety checked before starting work.
- From 1 July 2018: all existing core children’s workers must be safety checked. Note: ‘Core workers’ are those who have primary responsibility for children or are the only person present, while ‘non-core workers’ are others working with children.
- From 1 July 2019: the entire state-funded children’s workforce, including existing non-core children’s workers, must be safety checked, and then re-checked every three years.
Early learning services are also required to safety check their workers and have a child protection policy under their licensing and certification criteria.
What is a child protection policy?
A child protection policy is a written document that details how children’s workers can identify and report child neglect and abuse.
Centred-based services, home-based services, hospital-based services and playgroups need a child protection policy, and their policy must be reviewed every three years.
For more information on early learning sector child protection policy and safety checks, click here.
The Children’s Worker Safety Check is an important way to ensure that the youngest New Zealanders get the care and support they deserve. It gives peace of mind to families, employers and the government; and recognises the valuable role that children’s workers play in our society.