CRB checks – do toddler groups need them?
Nobody likes pointless paperwork and filling out the form for a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check can seem like a waste of time – particularly if the person concerned has already had a CRB check for another activity. You could also argue that toddler group leaders do not need to be checked because they are not actually responsible for any children; after all, the children’s parents or carers do stay with them during the sessions. But, as we’ll see, it is well worth taking the time to fill out that form.
Whilst toddler group leaders are not directly responsible for the children, they are recognised as being in ‘a position of trust’. Because of their role as leaders or helpers in the group, the children, and the adults too, will not treat them with the caution that they might a stranger in the street. As a result of this, a leader or helper may have the opportunity to develop a relationship with the child outside of the group – inviting the family into their home, for example, or offering to babysit. This could be an opportunity for abuse.
Does the law require CRB checks?
The government expects those working with children to have a Safeguarding Policy or Child Protection Policy (and, in addition, the Charity Commission and/or your insurance policy will have their own requirements). The policy should include a section on safe recruitment, including CRB checks. If your toddler group isn’t included in your church’s Safeguarding Policy, you should put your own in place. You can read more about this in our article on ‘Safeguarding Policy in Toddler Groups ’.
Question such as ‘When does a parent who helps to put away the toys become a leader?’ or ‘If our tea-lady is sick one week, does her stand-in need a CRB check?’ show how tricky it is to legislate in such matters. A degree of common sense about this is required, remembering that the greater the contact someone has with any particular child or group of children, the more they will be trusted and the higher the possibilities for abuse become.
Anyone who works or volunteers in what the government describes as a ‘Regulated Activity’ should have a CRB disclosure. A ‘Regulated Activity’ is one that includes carrying out any form of teaching or instruction with children, giving any form of care, supervision, treatment or therapy and also giving any form of advice or guidance relating to a child’s physical, emotional or educational well-being. This applies whether they work on a rota system or whether they are part of a ‘pool’ of people who work in their group. It is also essential to abide by your organisation’s Safeguarding Policy,
What does a CRB check do?
A CRB check is a part of the process that allows toddler groups to decide whether a person is suitable to work in the team. A check will let you know if the person is barred from working with children and will also reveal information which may be held on the Police National Computer regarding convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings. Anyone working with children must have an enhanced CRB check and this will also reveal any other information held locally by police if it is relevant to the job the person will be doing. This is why it is very important to make sure the ‘position applied for’ on the CRB form gives the police an accurate picture of the role the applicant will be doing. It is also an important reason why the organisation should not accept checks carried out by others
How to obtain a CRB check
A CRB check can only be carried out by an employer or the organisation for which the person is volunteering. An individual cannot obtain their own CRB check. The applicant will need to complete a simple form and show documents to prove their identity to a registered counter-signatory. There’s no charge if the job is to be done in a voluntary capacity, although if you use an ‘umbrella’ organisation to process the forms for you, they may have their own fees.
This information is supplied in good faith, but Care for the Family cannot accept responsibility for any advice or recommendations made by other organisations or resources.