Policies

Bobtails Baby & Toddler Group (‘Bobtails’ or ‘the group’) is a group of parents/carers who meet together with their children. The group provides the opportunity for pre-school children to experience a different environment to that at their home, developing their social awareness and independence while also allowing their parents/carers to meet other adults who also care for young children. The group is managed by a committee (‘the committee’) and a paid leader runs the sessions. Any comments on the running of Bobtails, including suggestions for new equipment or activities, should be directed to a committee member or the session leader.

This document sets out the policies we operate at Bobtails to ensure that the group runs successfully and meets the goals laid out in its constitution. All staff, committee members, volunteers and parents/carers and their children who attend the group are expected to follow these guidelines.
 

General policies

1.1.      The parent/carer is entirely responsible for their child/carer whilst attending the session.

1.2.      Occasionally Bobtails will not be able to run a session as normal, for instance if the Pavilion is being used as a polling station, or in the event of adverse weather such as heavy snow. In these instances the closure will be announced by email and, where possible, on the website and verbally at the preceding sessions if there is sufficient notice. If the Pavilion is unsuitable for a length of time, for example, following a fire in the building, alternative accommodation and arrangements will be sought to ensure that the group can continue.

1.3.      Attendance by none members (e.g. fundraising stall, student researcher) can be agreed with permission of the Committee.

1.4.      Children are provided with a beaker of water and snack at snack time.  From time to time parents may bring in a birthday cake to celebrate their child’s birthday.  If your child has any allergies it is your responsibility to ensure that your child does not eat any of these items.

1.5.      All hot drinks will be served from the kitchen and should only be drunk in the area immediately outside the kitchen. Hot drinks should never be put down where a child may reach.

1.6.      Children should not be allowed to go into the kitchen.

1.7.      Children must be kept away from door areas and must not play in the curtains.

1.8.      Keep potentially harmful or breakable items out of children’s reach, particularly if you carry medicines or sharp items in your bags.

1.9.      There are no nappy disposal facilities at the Pavilion, so please take your child’s dirty nappies home with you or use the bin outside. 

1.10.   No photographs or videos may be taken at Bobtails.

1.11.   Bobtails complies with health and safety regulations making our setting a no-smoking environment - both indoor and outdoor.  Please do not smoke either in the Pavilion or close to the entrance doors.

1.12.   Any broken or damaged toys or equipment must be removed from play and handed to the session leader or a committee member who will then make a decision as to whether they should be mended or discarded.

1.13.   Please remember that should your child vomit or have diarrhoea, they must not attend any session for 48 hours after the last time they were ill.  Should your child have any infectious disease, they should not attend until they are fully recovered.

1.14.   Bobtails aims to be a fairtrade group, where possible our food and drink is sourced from a fairtrade supplier.

 

Valuing diversity and promoting equality

We ensure that Bobtails is fully inclusive in meeting the needs of all children. We recognise that children and their families come from diverse backgrounds and value the contribution of all families to our understanding of equality and diversity. Bobtails welcomes all children and their parents/carers from all backgrounds and recognises its importance in fostering good relations between all communities.

All families have needs and values that arise from their social and economic, ethnic and cultural or religious backgrounds.  Children grow up in diverse family structures. Some children have needs that arise from disability or impairment or may have parents that are affected by disability or impairment. Some children come from families who experience social exclusion or severe hardship; some have to face discrimination and prejudice because of their ethnicity, the languages they speak, their religious or belief background, their gender or their impairment. We understand that these factors affect the well-being of children and can impact on their learning and attainment. Bobtails is committed to anti-discriminatory practice to promote equality of opportunity and valuing diversity for all children and families.

2.1.      Bobtails is open to all members of the community. Admission is on a drop-in basis. We do not discriminate against a child or their family, or prevent entry to our setting, on the basis of a protected characteristic as defined by the Equalities Act 2010. These are:

o   disability

o   race

o   gender reassignment

o   religion or belief

o   sex

o   sexual orientation

o   age

o   pregnancy and maternity

o   marriage and civil partnership

2.2.      We will develop and carry out an action plan to ensure that people with impairments can participate successfully in the services offered by the setting and in the activities offered.

2.3.      Bobtails makes inclusion a thread that runs through all activities of the setting, including welcoming ideas for activities and songs from all cultures, nationalities and communities.

2.4.      We provide information in clear, concise language, whether in spoken or written form, and provide information in any language if possible within our means. For families who speak languages in addition to English, we will develop means to ensure their full inclusion.

2.5.      Bobtails will challenge and eliminate any discriminatory actions by staff or parents/carers whether by:

o  direct discrimination – someone is treated less favourably because of a protected characteristic e.g. preventing families of some racial groups from using the service;

o  indirect discrimination - someone is affected unfavourably by a general policy e.g. children must only speak English in the setting;

o  association – discriminating against someone who is associated  with a person with a protected characteristic e.g. behaving unfavourably to someone who is married to a person from a different cultural background;

o  perception – discrimination on the basis that it is thought someone has a protected characteristic e.g. assuming someone is gay because of their mannerism or how they speak.

2.6.      Displaying of openly discriminatory and possibly offensive materials, name calling, or threatening behaviour are unacceptable on or around the premises and will be dealt with in the strongest manner.

2.7.      Contracts are put out to tender and advertised and all applicants are judged against explicit and fair criteria. Applicants are welcome from all backgrounds and posts are open to all.

2.8.      We are willing to accommodate the dietary requirements of children that arise from their medical, religious or cultural needs.

2.9.      All parent/carers who regularly attend Bobtails are invited to stand for election in to the committee and are judged against explicit and fair criteria. Meetings are arranged to ensure that all families who wish to may be involved in the running of the setting.

 

Behaviour

Parents and carers are responsible for their children at all times. Bobtails encourages children and adults to be kind to and considerate of each other and we ask for your help to ensure that your child’s behaviour does not affect other children’s enjoyment of the group. We recognise that codes for interacting with other people vary between cultures and respect all those used in the setting. All staff, committee members and volunteers will provide a positive model of behaviour by treating children, parents, carers and one another with friendliness, care and courtesy. We expect all members of our setting - children, parents/carers, staff, committee members, volunteers - to keep to the following guidelines, requiring these to be applied consistently.

3.1.      Bobtails encourages positive strategies for handling any inconsiderate behaviour, by helping children find solutions in ways which are appropriate for the children's ages and stages of development. Such solutions might include, for example, acknowledgement of feelings, explanation as to what was not acceptable and supporting children to gain control of their feelings so that they can learn a more appropriate response.

3.2.      We ensure that there are enough popular toys and resources and sufficient activities available so that children are meaningfully occupied without the need for unnecessary conflict over sharing and waiting for turns.

3.3.      If you are concerned about the behaviour of someone in the group please bring it to the attention of a member of the committee who will listen to your concerns in confidence.

3.4.      Bobtails will not tolerate violence, abusive or aggressive behaviour by parents or carers. Abusive or aggressive behaviour includes (but is not limited to) shouting, inappropriate language including swearing, and threats.

3.5.      Following any instance of abusive or aggressive behaviour, the Bobtails committee reserves the right to exclude any parent, carer or visitor from the sessions. This will not affect a child’s right to attend Bobtails, but they must be brought by a different parent or carer. All incidents of abusive or aggressive behaviour will be reported to the chair of the committee and dealt with appropriately. In the event of physically violent behaviour the police will be called.

3.6.      In cases of serious misbehaviour, such as racial or other abuse, a member of the Bobtails committee will make clear immediately the unacceptability of the behaviour and attitudes, by means of explanations rather than personal blame. However, under circumstances of serious misbehaviour, the Bobtails committee reserves the right to exclude children and their parents/carers from the sessions.

 

Child protection

4.1.      While Bobtails makes every effort to ensure the safety and safeguarding of the children in attendance it stresses that the parents/carers are responsible for the children they bring.

4.2.      Bobtails has a designated child protection officer elected at the annual general meeting as a port of call for parents/carers with any concerns about their own, or other people’s children’s safety. Parents/carers may speak to the child protection officer in confidence about any concerns who will listen and be non-judgmental in their response. The child protection officer will give the best support within their means and, where appropriate, will suggest other people or organisations to contact for further support or information.

4.3.      Bobtails will not knowingly employ any member of staff, elect any member of the committee or invite any volunteer or other non-member of the group (e.g. photographers, general sales, craft sales) who is known to have previously engaged in activities that caused concern for the safeguarding of children or vulnerable adults.

4.4.      Bobtails ensures that the privacy of children is protected while they are in the session by limiting photographs or video recordings to invited professionals with consent of the parents/carers. No photographs of videos other than these may be taken at Bobtails.

4.5.      No content will be added to the Bobtails website or any other website (including social media) by Bobtails staff or committee members that violates the privacy of the members or the reputation of the setting. Bobtails strongly encourages its members to think about any content they add to the internet in connection to the group and does not permit them to add content which violates the privacy of the members or the reputation of the setting.

4.6.      Useful numbers:

o  Cambridgeshire Children’s Social Services: 0345 045 5203 or 01733 234724

o  Cambridgeshire Police: 101

o  Cambridgeshire Local Safeguarding Children Board: 01480 373522

o  NSPCC: 0808 800 5000

o  Childline: 0800 1111

o  Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90

 

Child abuse

4.7.      Bobtails recognises that there are different forms of child abuse including physical, emotional, sexual and neglect, and these can manifest themselves differently in each child, e.g. changes in behaviour, physical signs such as bruising.

4.8.      Bobtails has a Safeguarding Children folder which contains detailed procedures for making a referral to the local children’s social care team, as well as a template form for recording concerns and making a referral. This is based on ‘What to do if you are worried a child is being abused’ (HMG 2006), a copy of which is also held within the Safeguarding Children folder.

4.9.      In the event of suspected child abuse the child protection officer will firstly speak to the relevant parent/carer in confidence, unless there is reason to believe this will make it worse in which case they will report the incident to Local Safeguarding Children Board. We will follow guidelines set out in ‘What to do if you are worried that a child is being abused’ (HMG 2006).

4.10.   We respond to any inappropriate behaviour displayed by members of staff, committee members, volunteers or any other person working with the children, which includes: inappropriate sexual comments; excessive one-to-one attention beyond the requirements of their usual role and responsibilities, or inappropriate sharing of images.

4.11.   If you have concerns about the behaviour of anyone towards a child, inform the child protection officer or another member of the committee.

4.12.   We follow the guidance of the Local Safeguarding Children Board when responding to any complaint that a member of staff, committee member or volunteer within the group has abused a child.

4.13.   If an investigation into the behaviour of a member of staff, committee member or volunteer is needed the chairperson will suspend that person from attending Bobtails sessions for the duration of the investigation. This is not an indication of admission that the alleged incident has taken place, but is to protect the person under investigation as well as children and families throughout the process. We will continue to welcome the child and the family whilst investigations are being made in relation to any alleged abuse.

4.14.   Where a member of staff, committee member or volunteer has been excluded from Bobtails due to engaging in activities that caused concern for the safeguarding of children or vulnerable adults, we will notify the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) of relevant information so that individuals who pose a threat to children (and vulnerable groups), can be identified and barred from working with these groups.

 

Abandoned child

4.15.   In the event that a child is left alone at the end of a session with no parent or carer all reasonable attempts will be made to contact the parents or nominated carers.

4.16.   If no contact can be made we contact our local authority children’s social care team, Cambridgeshire Direct, tel. 0345 045 5203 (office hours 8.00am – 5.00pm).  Out of these hours, Cambridgeshire Direct will transfer calls to the Emergency Duty Team. Social Care will aim to find the parent or relative if they are unable to do so, the child will become looked after by the local authority.

4.17.   Under no circumstances will staff go to look for the parent, nor do they take the child home with them. The child does not leave the premises with anyone other than the parents or nominated carers or by a social care worker. 

Missing child

4.18.   It must be stressed that children are in attendance at Bobtails under the supervision of their parents or carers. If a child is found to be missing it is not the responsibility of Bobtails to locate them, though any committee members present will offer help if possible.

4.19.   As soon as it is noticed that a child is missing the group should be alerted so that a search of the building and its surrounds can be carried out and the police alerted if necessary.

4.20.   Parents/carers are asked to make sure no other child has also gone astray.

4.21.   Doors and other openings are checked to see if there has been a breach of security whereby a child could wander out.

4.22.   Any committee members present should talk to parents/carers to find out when and where the child was last seen and record this information.

4.23.   If necessary, the committee will help the police in their investigation.

 

Health and Safety

Bobtails believes that the health and safety of children is of utmost importance. We make our setting a safe and healthy place for children, parents, staff and volunteers by assessing and minimising the hazards and risks. We identify risks taking in to account who is at risk, the likelihood of the risk happening and the severity and possible impact of the risk. We put in procedures to ensure that any risks that are identified can be minimised or eliminated; these procedures are reviewed to ensure they are effective.

While Bobtails is not responsible for the health and safety provision of the Pavilion, we liaise with Pavilion management to ensure that it meets our needs, for example, we request that doors be fitted with finger guards.

5.1.      We use the door facing on to the playground as our general entrance and exit door and ask that all parents/carers be vigilant to make sure it is shut when not in use.

5.2.      Bobtails is a no-smoking environment - both indoor and outdoor.  Please do not smoke either in the Pavilion or close to the entrance doors.

5.3.      We ask that hot drinks are only consumed in the area immediately outside the kitchen and that care is taken not to place them within a child’s reach or in any other place which may cause harm to someone.

5.4.      We have public liability insurance and employers' liability insurance. The certificate for public liability insurance is displayed on our noticeboard. The equipment is also covered by adequate insurance.

5.5.      No animals, other than registered guide dogs, should be brought to Bobtails.

 

Fire emergencies

5.6.      The main fire door (facing on to the car park) is clearly marked, always accessible, free from obstacles and easily opened. In order to ensure that children do not open the door without being noticed we use a door alarm which sounds when the door is opened.

5.7.      Fire extinguishers and other fire-fighting items are provided by the Pavilion.

5.8.      If a fire is detected within the building the fire alarm should be sounded to alert everyone present. Remember that there are other rooms in the building as well as the hall in which Bobtails is held.

5.9.      In the event of an emergency we ask parents and carers to pick up their child(ren) and to calmly leave the building following the nearest unobstructed route. Remaining calm is especially important in the presence of small children who may not understand what is happening.

5.10.   Once outside cross the car park and enter the playground via one of the gates that is not adjacent to the building. Assemble at the far end of the playground ensuring that the children do not return to the Pavilion.

5.11.   The sign-in sheet will be checked to make sure everyone is present, bearing in mind that some people may have left the building before the fire emergency.

5.12.   If a real fire or other emergency requiring help has occurred the emergency services will be contacted as soon as it is safe to do so.

5.13.   The emergency situation will be reported to the Pavilion management.

 

Activities and equipment

5.14.   We provide equipment and resources that are safe for the ages and stages of the children attending the sessions.

5.15.   The layout of play equipment allows adults and children to move safely and freely between activities.

5.16.   All equipment is regularly checked for cleanliness and safety and any broken items are repaired or discarded.

5.17.   All materials, including paint and glue, are non-toxic.

5.18.   We provide furniture which is suitable for children and furniture which is suitable for adults.

5.19.   In the event of a messy play activity care should be taken when walking around near it as the floor may be wet or slippery.

 

Illness and first aid

5.20.   We ask parents/carers and children who are unwell not to attend the sessions to ensure that they recover from the illness as swiftly as possible and to prevent the infection of other children and adults.

5.21.   In the instance of vomiting or diarrhoea, parents/carers/children are asked to wait for 48 hours after the last occurrence before attending Bobtails.

5.22.   After a high temperature, parents/carers/children are asked to wait for 24 hours before attending Bobtails.

5.23.   If a course of antibiotics is required, please wait for 48 hours after starting the treatment before attending Bobtails.

5.24.   If you or a child that you care for has an ailment in the list of excludable diseases provided by the Health Protection Agency (www.hpa.org.uk/webc/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1194947358374) we ask that the person affected refrains from attending Bobtails for the suggested exclusion time.

5.25.   Although children are in attendance at Bobtails under the supervision of their parents, we hold a basic first aid kit for accidents that happen during the session. This kit is placed so that it is easily accessible to adults but out of reach of the children. First aid will only be given to a child with the consent of their parent/carer.

 

Food hygiene

5.26.   We maintain the highest possible food hygiene standards with regard to the purchase, storage, preparation and serving of food. We use reliable suppliers for the food we purchase. Food is stored at correct temperatures and is checked to ensure it is in-date and not subject to contamination by pests, rodents or mould.

5.27.   Food preparation areas are cleaned before use as well as after use. We provide a hand-wash for children and parents/carers to wash their hands before eating. Waste food is disposed of.

 

Financial Control

6.1.      Financial records will be kept for at least 5 years so that Bobtails can:

o  Meet its legal and other obligations, e.g. Charities Act 1992, Inland Revenue, Customs & Excise and common law.

o  Enable the Committee to be in proper financial control of Bobtails.

6.2.      Bobtails will keep proper books of accounts, which will include:

o  Records of the subscriptions for every session

o  A cashbook analysing all the transactions in the Bobtails bank account.

6.3.      The financial year will end on the 31st August each year.

6.4.      Accounts will be drawn up after each financial year within three months of the end of the year and presented to the next Annual General Meeting.

6.5.      The accounts will be independently examined in accordance with legal requirements. In case there is no such legal requirement, the accounts will be independently examined by a person with suitable experience and/or qualifications as appointed by the Committee.

6.6.      At each meeting of the Committee, the Treasurer will present an up-to-date statement of accounts.

6.7.      Prior to the start of each financial year, the Committee will approve a budgeted income and expenditure account for the following year.

6.8.      Bobtails will aim to set subscriptions so that they cover the running costs and use fundraising activities to raise funds additional funds for one off items.  A small reserve will be kept for emergency use.

6.9.      Bobtails does not accept liability for any financial commitment unless properly authorised. Any orders placed or undertakings given must be authorised and minuted by the Committee. In exceptional circumstances such undertakings can be made with the Chairperson’s approval who will then provide full details to the next meeting of the Committee.

6.10.   Bobtails will adhere to good practice in relation to its finances at all times, e.g. when relevant it will set-up and maintain a fixed asset register.

 

Banking

6.11.   Bobtails will bank with a bank approved by the membership at an EGM or AGM. The account will be held in the name of the Bobtails Baby and Toddler Group.

6.12.   The bank mandate (list of people who can sign cheques on the organisations behalf) will consist of the Chair, Treasurer and Secretary.  Changes to it always be approved and minuted by the Committee. 

6.13.   A bank reconciliation will be carried out by the treasurer every month.

6.14.   Bobtails will not open any other bank account or use overdraft facilities or loan without of the agreement of the Committee.

 

Income

6.15.   All monies received will be recorded promptly and banked without delay. The treasurer will maintain files of documentation to back this up.

6.16.   Subscriptions are collected on a session by session basis. Total subscriptions will be counted by two people at the end of each session.

6.17.   Cash from subscriptions will never be used to pay expenses or contractors before it has been counted and the totals recorded.

6.18.   Differences between monies recorded on the sign-in sheet and actual cash taken from subscriptions will be recorded and monitored.

6.19.   Records will be kept of money owed and members will be reminded to pay the outstanding amount.

6.20.   Persistent non-payment (over two month’s subscription) may result in the child and their carer being asked to leave the group.

 

Payments (expenditure)

6.21.   Every payment out of Bobtail’s bank accounts will be evidenced by an original invoice. The original invoice will be retained by Bobtails and filed. 

6.22.   The only exceptions to payments not being supported by an original invoice would be for such items as advanced booking fees for a future course, deposit for a venue, VAT, etc.  Here a cheque requisition form will be used and a photocopy of the cheque kept.

6.23.   For goods/services over £100 a minimum of 3 quotes must be obtained and recorded. Reasons for passing over any lower price bids must be documented.

6.24.   Bobtails will reimburse reasonable expenditure paid for personally by staff or volunteers, providing all expenditure is evidenced by original receipts.

6.25.   Prior permission of two other Committee members, one of whom under normal circumstances will be the treasurer, is required for expenditure of any single item over £30. 

6.26.   Items under £10 may be reimbursed in cash. Larger items should be paid by cheque.

6.27.   Details of all cash payments should be recorded in the cash book.

6.28.   Advances will be considered in exceptional circumstances.


Cheques

6.29.   Blank cheques will never be signed.

6.30.   The relevant payee's name will always be inserted on the cheque before signature.

6.31.   Each cheque will be signed by at least two signatories.                            

6.32.   A cheque must not be signed by the person to whom it is payable.

6.33.   No cheques should be signed without original documentation (e.g. original invoice).

6.34.   Invoices should be referenced with:

o  Cheque number

o  Date cheque drawn

o  Amount of cheque

o  Who signed the cheque

 

Fundraising

6.35.   All fundraising undertaken on behalf of the organisation will be done in the name of Bobtails with the prior approval of the Committee or in urgent situations the approval of the Chairperson who will provide full details to the next trustee’s meeting.

6.36.   Records should be maintained for each fundraising event, in sufficient detail to identify gross receipts or takings.

6.37.   At least two people should be involved in handling and recording the money received.

 

Employees and contractors

6.38.   Evidence of self-employed status of contractors will be retained and reviewed at least annually or when there is a change in the working arrangements.

6.39.   Contractors are required to submit an invoice which should be paid within 14 days.

6.40.   All workers will be paid within the PAYE, National Insurance regulations.