Safeguarding procedure


Updated 18 January 2022

The purpose of this procedure is:

  • To ensure the safety of Adopter Hub service users and their families
  • To prevent access to anyone who is not a PACT adopter, member of staff, contract social worker or FACTS therapist (registered with PACT)
  • To prevent access to anyone who is not a registered adopter, special guardian, foster carer, staff member or school with one of our partners.

Introduction

In the development of The Adopter Hub we have kept the safety of our users at the top of our priority list. We continue to work with our digital partners Generate UK to ensure the site is compliant with all security guidance. This document explains the measures we have put in place for each part of the service.

Procedure


Website users

Users must be from one of the following categories in order to be eligible for a login to The Adopter Hub:

  • PACT prospective adopter from stage 1
  • Adopter approved through PACT
  • FACTS registered therapist
  • PACT staff or volunteer
  • Partner agency prospective adopter from stage 1
  • Adoptive parent from one of our partner agencies
  • Special guardian from one of our partner agencies
  • Foster carer from one of our partner agencies
  • Staff member from one of our partner agencies
  • Education staff member through partner agency or Virtual School

People outside of these categories may be given temporary access to The Hub for a limited period of time (e.g. potential webinar hosts, interview candidates etc). People with temporary access will not be able to view forums or access the webchat service.

Each PACT adopter request for online access is checked against a list of adopters provided by Adoption Business Support. If the adopter does not appear on the adopter list, Hub admin will contact Adoption Business Support directly. Access for FACTS therapists and staff are checked with HR or the relevant team manager.

Login requests from users from our partner agencies are verified with a unique partner code or via a key contact within the organisation. Once verification has been received the adopter/special guardian or foster carer is sent a unique log in to the website.

Adopters and special guardians have access to the forums so they are asked to provide an anonymous username to ensure that they are not identifiable in any way. If a user chooses a username that does not meet these parameters (or is unsuitable) Hub admin will contact them to request an alternative before they are issued with a login.

Adopter and special guardian forums

There are separate forums for adopters and special guardians. Adopters can also access the Ask the Team forum where they can post questions for PACT staff members.

Adopters and special guardians are asked to confirm that they agree to the rules of the forum before they enter. The forum rules are at Appendix 1 and Appendix 2 are designed to ensure that no-one is identifiable and that users and their families are kept safe online. The forum is monitored Monday – Friday by a member of The Adopter Hub team. If an adopter breaches the forum guidelines and behaves inappropriately their posts will be deleted as soon as we are aware of them (this should be within a few hours of posting during work hours or the next working day) and they may be asked to leave the forum. If a user is asked to leave The Hub, a note will be made on the database so that they cannot request access again.

If there is a safeguarding concern within a forum post, then the staff member monitoring the posts will follow the PACT Safeguarding Policy and will notify the Adoption Support Manager and PACT’s designated Safeguarding Officer immediately

If the safeguarding flag concerns a non-PACT adopter or special guardian, The Adopter Hub Manager will contact PACT’s designated Safeguarding Officer and the relevant partner agency to make them aware. The partner is then expected to follow their safeguarding policy

Webinars

Adopter Hub members can sign up to watch webinars live. Any questions they ask over the question facility are typed and are only seen by the webinar host. Attendees identities are protected and other users cannot see other adopters in the webinar or their names. The webinars are monitored by a member of The Adopter Hub team. If any question or comment posed a safeguarding risk, then the staff member monitoring the webinar would follow the PACT Safeguarding Policy and would notify the Adoption Support Manager and PACT’s designated Safeguarding Officer immediately.

One-to-one webchat

Currently all volunteers on the one-to-one webchat service are approved PACT adopters. As part of their recruitment they go through the PACT Safeguarding online training, and also receive training on identifying safeguarding risks online and how to report them as part of their webchat-specific training. All volunteers are recruited according to PACT’s safer recruitment procedures. They are able to use anonymous names online so that they are not identifiable to other service users.

Service users can access the webchat terms of use page via a link on the Webchat section of their homepage. The wording on the Webchat terms of use page is shown on Appendix 3.

If a volunteer adopter/peer supporter has a safeguarding concern about a service user they will follow the PACT Safeguarding Policy to raise their concern immediately. The volunteer/supporter will notify the member of staff managing the service that day and it will be escalated immediately to the Adoption Support Manager and Safeguarding Officer. The webchat service is not currently available out of office hours.

Safeguarding and our partners

Access to The Adopter Hub is also available to Virtual schools, LAs and RAAs who wish to buy in to the service. As explained above, all users including adopters, special guardians and foster carers are verified by their agencies so we know which agency they ‘belong’ to. Any safeguarding concerns regarding partners’ service users or comments they may make also will be subject to the PACT Safeguarding Policy and this procedure document. The partner agency’s key contact or Service Manager will also be notified to follow up locally, the same day and PACT will also then confirm this in writing.

 

Appendix 1 – adopter forums rules


This is a safe space for you to talk about your experiences, support others and share ideas.

Whether you are right at the beginning of the process of adoption, have just had a child placed or have had your children for many years, we hope that this will be a positive tool for you to use.

In order to keep you and your family safe and to ensure a positive and supportive environment, there are some rules we ask you to follow when posting in these forums. Entering these forums indicates that you accept these rules.

Please be aware that safeguarding is a priority on The Hub. Our safeguarding procedure is to communicate any posts that suggest there is a safeguarding concern back to the referring agency so that they are able to offer support.

Make sure you and your family are anonymous: do not divulge any identifiable details about yourself or your family. Use your anonymous username created when you registered and give family members nicknames. Make sure you do not mention where you live, schools, local councils, names of other adopters or social workers, etc.

Respect others’ opinions and experiences: these forums are for support and to share knowledge and experience. Please be respectful of other people’s experiences and opinions.

Safeguarding: we take safeguarding very seriously and will take action if you post anything that suggests you or a child is at risk of harm to themselves or others.

Liability: Discussion forums are not private communications, and in signing up to these forums you are acknowledging that your posts will be read by others. By contributing to our website you grant us perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive rights to publish your entry on any media. You also grant us the right to remove, move to a separate thread or board, modify, adapt, and translate that entry, and make it available to the public worldwide. PACT disclaims any liability with regard to the online discussion forums and blogs and any actions resulting from your participation in either.

Report content which doesn’t follow the rules.

And finally…

Please be aware that if we do find any posts which do not fall within the parameters of these rules, we reserve the right to remove them and take further action if necessary, which could result in de-registering forum users if their forum use has been deemed to be outside of these rules.

By using the forums you are confirming that you have read and agree to the rules stated above.

Appendix 2 – special guardian forum rules


This is a safe space for you to talk about your experiences, support others and share ideas.

Whether you are right at the beginning of the process of becoming a special guardian, have just had a child placed or have had your children for many years, we hope that this will be a positive tool for you to use.

In order to keep you and your family safe and to ensure a positive and supportive environment, there are some rules we ask you to follow when posting in the forum. Entering this forum indicates that you accept these rules.

Please be aware that safeguarding is a priority on The Hub. Our safeguarding procedure is to communicate any posts that suggest there is a safeguarding concern back to the referring agency so that they are able to offer support.

Make sure you and your family are anonymous: do not divulge any identifiable details about yourself or your family. Use your anonymous username created when you registered and give family members nicknames. Make sure you do not mention where you live, schools, local councils, names of other adopters or social workers, etc.

Respect others’ opinions and experiences: this forum is for support and to share knowledge and experience. Please be respectful of other people’s experiences and opinions.

Safeguarding: we take safeguarding very seriously and will take action if you post anything that suggests you or a child is at risk of harm to themselves or others.

Liability: Discussion forums are not private communications, and in signing up to this forum you are acknowledging that your posts will be read by others. By contributing to our website you grant us perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive rights to publish your entry on any media. You also grant us the right to remove, move to a separate thread or board, modify, adapt, and translate that entry, and make it available to the public worldwide. PACT disclaims any liability with regard to the online discussion forums and blogs and any actions resulting from your participation in either.

Report content which doesn’t follow the rules.

And finally…

Please be aware that if we do find any posts which do not fall within the parameters of these rules, we reserve the right to remove them and take further action if necessary, which could result in de-registering forum users if their forum use has been deemed to be outside of these rules.

By using the forum you are confirming that you have read and agree to the rules stated above.

Appendix 3 – One-to-one webchat terms of use


Non-judgemental peer support from other adopters
We are here to provide you with confidential peer support, guidance and information whatever stage of your adoption journey you are at.

Our trained Adopter Peer Supporters are just like you – they are also adopters who may well have experienced similar situations so will ‘get it’, as well as providing information about potential actions or where to go for further support. No problem is too small – it’s ok to contact us even if you think it’s not ‘big’ enough.

Contact us at any time
You can message us anytime using the link on the homepage. We may be online to respond straight away but we are small team of adopters with families of our own, so at times there may be a delay in our response. We will get back to you as soon as we can.

If you need more urgent support please contact your adoption team.

Confidentiality
This service is confidential and anything you say will be kept between yourself and The Adopter Hub. However, we take safeguarding very seriously and may have to take immediate action if you or a child is at risk of harm to themselves or others. Our safeguarding and privacy policies are in the footer of every webpage of this site. Please be aware that all chats are automatically stored on the TAWK platform. We will delete these chats after 3 months unless there is a valid reason to keep them.


Reviewed by: Liz McAuley (Trustee)

Document owner: Designated Safeguarding Officer and Safeguarding Trustee Lead