Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Mobile phone and camera policy - childminders

EYFS requirement 3.4 Child Protection states (among other things) -
‘The safeguarding policy and procedures must cover the use of mobile phones and cameras in the setting.’

The EYFS does not say that cameras and mobile phones must not be used in childminding provisions, regardless of advice from some Local Safeguarding Children Boards. In fact, Ofsted state that ‘The intention in the EYFS is not to make communication difficult but ensure that mobile phones are only used when essential and you are not distracted by them when caring for children. ‘

Writing your policy - things you might need to include

Advice from Ofsted states that this requirement is in place because of the misuse of photographs and mobile phones in some childcare settings which led to children being abused. You should keep this in mind when writing your policy.

In your policy should consider talking about…

• How you use your mobile phone to make and take essential phone calls during the working day. Explain to parents that it is essential you have a mobile phone as it is the way they can best contact you in an emergency.

o If your mobile phone is used to record children’s progress - some childminders use software on their IPhones for example - then this must also be discussed.

o If you use your mobile phone to store parents / emergency contact numbers so they are available when you go on outings, inform parents about this and explain how you do everything possible to keep your mobile phone safe and the information stored on it secure so their details are not misused.

• How you use your camera (digital camera or phone camera) to take photos of children which are shared with parents to show evidence of their learning and development and for display to help them feel part of the provision.

• How you protect photos is you send them over the internet - for example by email - to parents or absent parents.

• How you ensure children are safeguarded eg how photos are -

o Used - Learning Journey booklets, daily diary, displays in the house, training courses, on the internet to advertise your business - only say what is relevant to you here!

o Appropriate - children are properly dressed; photos do not show intimate views of children etc.

o Stored - on memory sticks, cloud / online storage, CDs to give parents at Christmas (eg), password protected folder on your computer etc.

o Deleted - when no longer needed.

o Printed - on a dedicated printer or using other digital photo printers in a shop or online.

• Who might see photos of childminded children eg Ofsted, local authority development workers, the child’s parent / carer, Local Safeguarding Children Board if there is a safeguarding concern.

• How you manage children’s use of mobile phones, cameras and photos eg if an older child brings a mobile phone to the provision which also has a camera.

• How you relate concerns about photos to parents eg if a child’s parent takes a photo of a group of children or brings their mobile phone on your premises.

• How you relate concerns about photos to other childminders, visitors to your premises etc and manage any incidents where they might take or use photos of childminded children.

• How you monitor your own children’s use of mobile phones and cameras during working hours - and, for example, the phone and camera use of any friends they invite to your house after school.

• Your procedure for requesting written permission from parents / carers to take and use photos of their children.

• How you aim to keep your mobile phone and camera safe - in the house, garden and on outings to ensure any photos of children and data about families is kept secure.

• Registration with the Information Commissioners Office as a data handler because you take, store and retain digital photos of children.

• How your whistleblowing policy includes the use and misuse of cameras and mobile phones - if you work with assistants or a co-childminder.

• You might also need to discuss other devices which link to the internet and might be used to take photos eg IPods, laptops with cameras attached etc as these might potentially pose a risk.

Some childminders are using this policy as a way of reminding parents that their child’s stories about their day are more important than the mobile phone call which they are taking as they walk up the drive!

An article in Essential Childminder Magazine
EYFS (DfE, 2012)
The Childminding Forum - various posts
Knutsford Childminding blog