Creating the right environment for children and young people is a key consideration for every club and organisation with a junior offer.
Parents and carers have a leading role to play in supporting and sustaining their children’s participation and safe enjoyment of sport. Actively engaging parents can also provide extra help and support when you need it most and help spread the word about the great work of your club/organisation.
In recognition of the vital role that parents can play, the Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) has developed the ‘Sports Parents Promise’. Parents are encouraged to sign up to a three-part promise to their children to:
- Make sure the sports club/organisation they choose together is safe and fun. As part of this, parents/carers are encouraged to ask clubs 5 questions about the policies and procedures they have in place.
- Listen to their child(ren) if they have any concerns about their sport or express that they are not happy. Parents/carers are encouraged to talk to their child(ren) and find out what could be changed to improve their child’s experience. If they have concerns about bullying, discrimination, behaviour or abuse parents/carers are encouraged to talk to the club/organisation’s welfare or child protection officer.
- Always support their child(ren) and their teammates in a positive way. As part of this, they are encouraged to be good role models, keep the atmosphere positive by shouting encouragement not criticism, respect the decisions of officials and encourage their child(ren) to have fun.
Raising the profile of, and encouraging parents/carers to sign up to the ‘Sports Parents Promise’ is a central component of the ‘Parents in Sport Week’ campaign run by the CPSU every October. However, you can encourage your participants' parents to sign up all year round.
Proving your organisation is safe
Below are 5 questions that parents/carers should feel able to ask a community organisation that their child or young person is part of, or wants to join. Also included below are some recommendations to help organisations answer the questions reassuringly. This is based on the CPSU’s guidance relating to maximising the role that parents/ carers can play in supporting CYP to participate or volunteer in sport and physical activity.
1. Do you safely recruit your workforce?
No matter the size of your organisation, you should have robust recruitment processes in place for staff members and/or volunteers including a process for interviews, references and screening. The CPSU recommends certain checks are made integral to your recruitment processes for all staff and volunteers that will come into regular contact with children and young people. These include obtaining:
- Proof of identity.
- At least two satisfactory references.
- A DBS check.
Visit the CPSU’s information on Safer Recruitment for more.
2. Does the club/organisation have a safeguarding policy?
It is essential that your club/organisation has a Safeguarding Children Policy. This policy should:
- Provide a statement on how your organisation is committed to safeguarding children.
- Outline procedures for reporting, recording and responding to concerns and complaints relating to safeguarding.
- Be clear to parents and staff/volunteers that you are committed to protecting the welfare of your members/participants.
- Have a nominated welfare or child protection officer in place.
Visit our safeguarding and welfare section for more advice on how safeguarding should be integrated into all aspects of your work.
3. What happens if there is an accident?
It is important that you have a robust procedure in place for dealing with any accidents or incidents. Make sure you always ask parents/carers for up-to-date emergency contact information, update this information on a regular basis and notify parents/carers as soon as possible if an accident occurs. The CPSU recommend the following steps are taken when an accident occurs:
- Make contact with parents/guardians.
- Contact emergency services or GP if required.
- Fill in two copies of the accident reporting form for all accidents – record details of the facts surrounding the accident, any witnesses etc.
- Identify any follow up actions that need to be taken (this should be signed off by a senior club officer or official).
- File one copy of the form in your accident/incident book or folder.
- Forward one copy of the form to a designated person for record-keeping and following up on actions required.
They also have a downloadable template for an accident-reporting form available here.
4. Who can I talk to?
In line with HM Government’s guide ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ and the standards set out by the CPSU, all sports clubs/organisations working with children and young people should have a safeguarding lead. Many organisations combine this role with their club’s Welfare Officer role. It is also important that your club or organisation promotes an open culture where parents, members/participants and staff all feel that they can raise concerns without fear of judgement or being ignored.
5. What training is there?
Your club/organisation should openly share information about the validity and level of all qualifications held by your coaches, Welfare Officer and other staff and volunteers where relevant. You should refer to the National Governing Bodies (NGBs) of sport for guidance on coaching and other relevant qualifications. For a list of Sport England recognised sports and details of their respective NGBs click here: NGBs of Sport.
Showcasing and spreading the word
Making the information parents need as easily accessible as possible will help to reinforce that your club/organisation is safe, accountable and an appropriate environment for children and young people. To get the message out, we recommend that you:
- Have all of your relevant processes, procedures and policy documents readily available. We would suggest that you include them as downloadable documents on your website and have hard copies available for review at the site(s) you use. We would encourage you to be creative and display reference to them in posters at your facility or in a Welcome Pack for parents.
- Make the contact information for relevant committee members and the Welfare/Safeguarding Officers easily accessible and known amongst parents, members/participants and staff/volunteers. Again, try to make sure the details are on your website, displayed at the site you use and included in any new joiner or induction information you share with parents.
- The information you give parents when their children join could also include a list of relevant qualifications already held by your club/organisation’s coaches and officials. You could also use your marketing channels, like social media, to announce when staff are awarded new qualifications in the future too.