Child Protection – Child Abuse, Inappropriate Material, Drugs, Alcohol, and Poisons

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All early childhood services are required to have a written child protection policy. 

Child protection policy and procedure

The policy must be reviewed every three years – services may be asked for evidence that they have undertaken a policy review.   (See a sample child protection policy template and guidelines.)

The policy must:

  • Meet the requirements of the Children’s Act 2014.
  • Contain provisions for the identification and reporting of child abuse and neglect,
  • Explain how the service will keep children safe from abuse and neglect.
  • Explain how it will respond to suspected child abuse and neglect.  (Note that a child protection process that is documented (i.e., a policy) may help to minimise risk but risk cannot be prevented/eliminated or isolated). 

Services are also required to have a written procedure that sets out the practices (it requires the service provider and staff or educator to follow) to identify and respond to suspected child abuse and/or neglect.

A good child protection policy and procedure will link to other relevant requirements such as that: only a parent/main caregiver or a person who is authorised in writing by the parent/main caregiver can be allowed to collect and leave with a child.

Inappropriate material 

Service must take all practicable steps to prevent children from seeing or be exposed to inappropriate material, e.g., sexually explicit or of a violent nature.  

For example, the risk to children of seeing adverts with inappropriate material shown before an online video clip may be minimised by the teacher checking if the clip has any such adverts attached or not if using online video clips as part of teaching.

Alcohol, drugs, smoking, vaping, and other harmful substances including poisons

Centres

Centres must not have any person on the premises during the hours of operation that uses or has used any substance (e.g., alcohol) that could have a detrimental effect on their functioning or behaviour.  

Note that a teacher who arrives at work feeling sick or tired with a hangover could perhaps be seen to not meet this requirement. The requirement also leaves open the possibility that a centre can bar any person from being on the premises, e.g., parents, where there is evidence of substance use negatively affecting the person’s behaviour.

No person on the premises is permitted to smoke or vape in any area used by children or used for food preparation while children are attending the service. (Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990). 

Home-based services

No staff (co-ordinators and visiting teachers) and educators can use, or be under the influence of, alcohol or any other substance that has a detrimental effect on their functioning or behaviour whilst responsible for children.

All practicable steps must be taken to ensure that children do not come into contact with any person on the premises who is under the influence of alcohol or any other substance that has a detrimental effect on their functioning or behaviour.

No person on the premises is permitted to smoke or vape in any area used by children or used for food preparation while children are attending the service. (Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990).

Failing to meet child protection minimum standards

The Ministry of Education needs to know:

  • If you are concerned children’s needs are not being met.
  • If you are concerned a service is not meeting a minimum legal requirement.

READ MORE: How to make a complaint and your options.


CAUTION: This page and the information here is provided as part of the My ECE Guide to Regulations and Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education Services (The Guide).  The Guide does not purport to be a full and accurate interpretation of all statutory provisions relating to early childhood education services. While best efforts have been used in preparing this guide, no representations or warranties of any kind are made and My ECE assumes no liabilities of any kind with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the content. Please note that the Government and Ministry of Education may change, update, or alter any of the requirements at any time.  Please help to keep the information on this page up to date by letting us know of changes that need to be made.
Thank you!  Kia pai te rā

Reference:
Child Protection – Child Abuse, Inappropriate Material, Drugs, Alcohol, and Poisons. Published in the My ECE Guide to Regulations and Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education Services, prepared by Dr Sarah Alexander and Warwick Marshall.

Last reviewed: 20 November 2022

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