Child Protection Policy in Homo Faber Association
Homo Faber Association is a local organisation that was established in 2004 in the field of human rights protection. Homo Faber is Latin for “Human Being the Maker”, a working human being.
Mission: Homo Faber. Human Rights: Small Steps, Big Changes.
The vision of Homo Faber is Lublin, in which every person feels free and safe, fully enjoys their rights, regardless of gender, physical health, national and ethnic origin, "race", skin colour, psychosexual orientation, religious beliefs, worldview, political opinion, level of wealth, age or any other feature.
Since February 24, 2022, the organisation has been working in the area of humanitarian assistance to refugees (mainly women and children) from Ukraine, co-founding the Lublin Social Committee for Ukraine with other organisations and institutions.
The Association's Child Protection Policy contains rules and guidelines designed to:
1) establish rules for a safe employee-child relationship;
2) identify procedures for intervention in cases of suspected child abuse;
3) identify ways to verify employees;
4) regulate the mechanism by which children and their parents/legal guardians can file complaints.
Explanation of terms
- An employee of the Association is a person employed under an employment contract, civil law contract, volunteer contract, internship contract, student internship contract or other cooperative agreement.
- A child is any person under the age of 18.
- The guardian of the child is the person authorised to represent the child, in particular his parent or legal guardian.
- Consent of the guardian means the consent of the person entitled to represent the child, in particular, his legal representative (parent, legal guardian) or other person entitled to representation under special regulations or court decision. In the case of parents, it means the consent of one of them. If there is no agreement between the child's parents, the case shall be decided by the court.
- Child abuse should be understood as the commission of a prohibited act or a criminal act to the detriment of a child by any person, including an employee of the Association, or a threat to the welfare of a child, including:
1) exposing the child to imminent danger of loss of life or grievous bodily harm or failure to provide assistance to a child in such a situation;
2) Negligence involving allowing a child to be in circumstances that are dangerous to health;
3) use of corporal punishment;
4) sexual abuse of a child, i.e., involving a child in sexual activity that he or she is unable to understand and consent to;
- The person responsible for the Child Abuse Protection Policy is a staff member appointed by the Association's Board of Directors to oversee the implementation of the Child Abuse Protection Policy. The Board of Directors of the Association appoints Piotr Skrzypczak for this task - e-mail address: email@example.com.
- A child's personal information is any information that allows one to identify the child.
- Legal intervention is to notify the police or the prosecutor's office on suspicion of committing a crime to the detriment of the child, or to notify the competent district court, family and juvenile department of the threat to the welfare of the child.
- Crisis intervention is a complex of specialised activities, mainly of a psychological nature, linked to others, e.g. social, legal, medical, for the benefit of individuals and families in a situation threatening crisis, crisis or chronic crisis conditions. Crisis intervention is aimed at preventing or restoring the lost mental and social balance, capacity for action and autonomy of individuals and families experiencing a crisis. Children require particularly thoughtful forms of action and consideration of the specifics of the legal situation during crisis intervention.
Rules of working with children
- Employees of the Homo Faber Association provide assistance to children and their families/legal guardians free of charge, within the framework of statutory activities. Direct assistance is provided at points of collective accommodation, clients' places of residence and at the psychological office run by the Homo Faber Association. In order to provide direct assistance to a child, the child's parent/legal guardian must give consent.
- Assistance is available to all children in need of protection from abuse, regardless of gender, nationality, skin colour, religion belief, physical health and other characteristics.
Rules for a safe employee-child relationship
- While working with children employees:
1) are based on respect for his or her subjectivity, dignity, rights, including with special attention to the right to protection from harm and the right to protect the child's privacy;
2) are mindful of the fact that direct contact takes place with his or her consent and is adapted to his abilities and needs. Before working with the child, staff explains to him/her what will happen during the meeting;
3) when interacting with a child, they use simple language, adapted to the child's developmental level, devoid of labels and judgments;
4) provide answers to their questions appropriate to their age and developmental stage;
5) remain calm and respectful, especially bearing in mind that children who have experienced the trauma of war may express difficult emotions (e.g., fear, anger, detachment) deriving from it;
6) treat them equally regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, ability/disability, social, ethnic, cultural, religious status, worldview and other characteristics;
7) when making decisions relating to them, employees inform children and try to take their opinions and expectations into account;
8) try to avoid situations where they are alone with the child. If necessary - employees inform another employee where exactly they are going to be with the child;
9) take care of safety by making sure that the equipment and facilities they use are used according to children’s safety (i.e., windows and doors are secured, access to busy roads is restricted, etc.).
- The following behaviour of employees toward children is unacceptable:
1) Any behaviour that embarrasses, humiliates or degrades children, having the appearance of psychological, physical violence or sexual abuse;
2) Inappropriate physical contact that violates the dignity of the child;
3) giving the child drugs, alcohol and/or any psychoactive substances;
4) engaging in sexual relations with the child;
5) having relations of a private nature with the child (outside the scope of assistance provided).
Ways to verify staff
- The personal data of child facilitators should be recorded (in accordance with the provisions of the law on the processing of personal data), so that in situations of possible abuse the perpetrator can be easily identified.
- Persons assisting children should first sign a statement that they have no criminal record for intentional offenses and be checked in the Violent and Sex Offender Register to prevent possible abuse. Persons responsible for checking whether a person is not listed in the Register are Małgorzata Zmysłowska and Maria Mazur.
- Before starting work, the selected candidate, in addition to other documents required by law, shall submit a statement regarding the absence of a criminal record for crimes against sexual freedom, morality, crimes to the detriment of an underage as well as one about pending criminal proceedings against him.
- Each newly hired employee shall familiarise himself or herself with the provisions of the Child Protection Policy. Familiarisation with the aforementioned rules is confirmed by the employee's signature under the relevant statement.
Recognising and responding to risk factors for child abuse
- Employees of the Homo Faber Association are aware of the risk factors of child abuse and pay attention to them as part of their duties.
- If risk factors are identified, employees of the Homo Faber Association report this fact to the person responsible for supervising the implementation of the Child Protection Policy, who undertakes a conversation with the child's guardians, or the task can be conducted by an appropriate employee. During the conversation, information should be provided on the available offer of support and motivate the child's parent/legal guardian to accept help.
- Employees shall monitor the situation and well-being of the child receiving assistance provided by the Homo Faber Association. This responsibility rests with employees working directly with the family: at points of collective accommodation, providing living assistance or psychological assistance.
- If there is a suspicion that a child is being abused, the employee should pass such information to the coordinator of the entity organising assistance for children or to the coordinator of the program/project under which such assistance is provided, who, after recognising the situation, makes a decision on further proceedings.
- Each of the entities organising assistance/care for children should inform those working with underages about what to do in a situation of suspicion and/or witnessing child abuse
Procedures for intervention in case of child abuse
- Any information about suspected child abuse should be investigated, whether it comes from the child/parent/legal guardian and whether it concerns suspected abuse by another child, the child's parent/legal guardian/employee of the Homo Faber Association.
- If there is a suspicion of a crime or a threat to the welfare of a child, the employees of the Homo Faber Association shall take immediate legal intervention.
- The decision to intervene is made by a team consisting of: the employee who obtained the information, the manager of the project, the official appointed by the Board of the Association who supervises the realisation of the Child Protection Policy.
- The decision to intervene by sending a notice to the prosecutor's office is approved by the Board of Directors of the Homo Faber Association. The Board is informed about other interventions. At the same time, the Association's employees provide assistance and support to the child and his or her non-offending parent/legal guardian. In the case of an immediate threat to the life or health of a child, the employee who has obtained such information shall immediately intervene by immediately notifying the police by telephone. Actions related to the intervention must be documented by the employee who supervises the implementation of the Child Protection Policy.
- If the suspected offender is an employee of the Homo Faber Association, he or she is immediately removed from working with children for the time the case is investigated. The decision on further cooperation is made by the Board of Directors of the Homo Faber Association.
- In the case of suspicion that a child is on the territory of the Republic of Poland without the supervision of an adult, it is necessary to take care of the child's basic needs first - to provide safety, clothing that is adequate to the weather conditions, food and prevent the child from leaving, and then:
1) if it is determined that the child is lost - inform the nearest police unit and the relevant social welfare center. Notification, if possible, should be in the written form;
2) if child arrived on the territory of the Republic of Poland independently or was abandoned by the parent/guardian - the locally competent guardianship court and the competent social welfare center should be informed. The notification, if possible, should be in the written form. If the notification is made by an employee of the support institution where the child lives, then this person can give his/her data to the social welfare center as a candidate for the child's temporary guardian. The decision on how to ensure the safety of the child is made by the locally competent guardianship court. Until the decision is made, child should be allowed to stay at the temporary placement.
- If information that a child is on the territory of the Republic of Poland under the care of an adult whose custody is not legally valid, it is essential to explain to this person what the institution of temporary guardianship is, and then encourage them to file an application for the establishment of temporary guardianship, helping them to fill it out. If it is not possible, the local social welfare center should be informed, so that the center can apply to the guardianship court to establish this person as a temporary guardian. It is also worth encouraging this person to be registered at the consulate or embassy of Ukraine in Poland.
- If you have any doubts about the proper procedure in the above cases, you can call the telephone number 800 100 100 for free run by the 'Dajemy Dzieciom Siłę' Foundation. The on-call service is conducted in Polish and Russian.
- If there is a suspicion that a child is at risk of a trafficking crime, the child's safety should be ensured as much as possible, the child should be separated from the suspected abuser and police should be notified by calling 112 or 997.
- The intervention scheme is attached as Attachment 1 to the Child Protection Policy.
Complaint against employee's action
Children and their parents (legal guardians) can file complaints about an employee's behaviour through the TalktoLoop platform by choosing one of the following communication channels:
1) WhatsApp: +48 888 880 017; +38 0997222736;
2) Facebook Messenger: @TalktoLoopPoland or @TalktoLoopUkraine:
3) directly through the website: www.talktoloop.org.
Rules of children’s data protection
- The children's personal data shall be protected in accordance with the principles set by the Law of August 29, 1997 on the Protection of Personal Data and GDPR.
- The employees of the Association are obliged to maintain the secrecy of the personal data they process and the ways of securing the personal data from unauthorised access.
- The personal data of children shall be made available only to those persons and entities who are authorised under separate regulations.
- Employees of the Association are instructed not to share information about children and their parents/legal guardians with the media. They should not speak in contact with media representatives about the case of the child or his guardian without obtaining the appropriate permission in advance.
- Staff members do not photograph, film or publish footage with assisted children. If they do take photographs, they do so only in a way that prevents identification of the child.
Monitoring of the implementation of the Policy
- The person responsible for the Child Protection Policy shall be appointed by the Board of Directors of the Association.
- The person responsible for the Child Protection Policy:
- a) monitors the implementation of the Policy;
- b) responds to signals of violations of the Policy;
- c) offers modifications to the Policy;
- d) conducts a questionnaire among the staff of the Association, once every 6 months, to monitor the level of implementation of the Policy. The sample questionnaire is attached as Attachment 2 to this Policy;
- e) processes the questionnaires completed by employees. Prepares a monitoring report on this basis, which is then submitted to the Association Board.
- The Board of Directors of the Association shall make the necessary changes to the Policy and announce the new wording of the Policy to the employees.
- The policy enters into force on the day of its announcement.
- It shall be announced in a manner that is accessible to the employees of the Association, in particular by sending its text electronically and posting it on the Association's website.
Attachment 1 - Intervention Scheme
Attachment 2. - The Intervention Card
Attachment 3. - Monitoring of standards (questionnaire)
Attachment 4 - Statement of No Criminal Record and Familiarisation with the Child Protection Policy