Information sharing and Confidentiality Policy

Introduction

Our work with children and their families will bring us into contact with confidential information which will only be used to enhance the welfare of children. Parents/carers have a right to know and be informed about the circumstances, and reasons, when we are obliged to share information and we will be open and honest and explain to families how, when and why the information will be shared about them and with whom. It is a legal requirement for the Nursery to hold information about the children and families using the Nursery and the staff working at the Nursery.  There are record keeping systems in place that meet legal requirements; means of storing and sharing that information take place within the framework of the Data Protection Act and the Human Rights Act.

It is our intention to respect the privacy of children and their families and we do this by following the procedure below:

  • Confidential records are stored in a locked filing cabinet in the Nursery Office.
  • Written permission is obtained to hold personal details on children and staff.
  • Parents/carers are informed when we need to record confidential information beyond the general personal information we keep i.e. injuries, concerns, safeguarding, contact with external agencies.
  • Written consent is sought from parents/carers before information is shared with external agencies unless a child is considered at risk, when our Safeguarding Policy will be followed.
  • Parents/carers have access to files and records of their own children but not to those of any other child.
  • All staff are aware that personal information given by parents/carers is confidential and only for use within the Nursery, where it affects planning for the child’s needs.
  • If parents/carers share information about themselves with other parents/carers as well as staff we cannot be held responsible if information is shared by those parents/carers whom the person has ‘confided’ in.
  • Staff, student and volunteer inductions include an awareness of the importance of confidentiality and they sign a Confidentiality Agreement. A copy of this is kept on their file.
  • Decisions about staff employment remain confidential to those directly involved in the process.
  • If staff breach this policy this may result in disciplinary action including dismissal.

Records

Records are kept for the purpose of maintaining our Nursery. These include safeguarding, health and safety records, developmental plans, financial records, contractual documentation and employment records of staff, students and volunteers.

We keep two types of records on children attending our Nursery:

Developmental records – ‘My Learning Journey’ – These may include observations of children in the Nursery, photographs and samples of their work. These are kept in the room and can be freely accessed, and contributed to, by staff, the children and the child’s parents/carers.

Personal records – These include summary development records, registration and consent forms; an on-going record of relevant contact with parents/carers; correspondence concerning the child or family from other agencies; observations by staff on any confidential matter such as developmental concerns or safeguarding matters. These are stored in a lockable cabinet and are kept secure by the Nursery Manager in the office. Parents/carers have access to the files and records of their own children (please see below) but do not have access to information about any other child.

Access to Records

Parents/carers may request access to any confidential records held on their child and family following the procedure below:

  • Request to see the child’s personal file by a parent/carer must be made to the Nursery Manager, who will send written confirmation and will inform the Chairman. We commit to provide access within 14 days, although this may be extended.
  • All third parties are written to asking for their permission to disclose to the person requesting it. This includes all family members and workers from other agencies, referred to in the records.
  • When all the consents/refusals to disclose have been received any information which a third party has refused consent to disclose is removed and the remaining file photocopied.
  • The photocopied file is given to the parents/carers by the Nursery Manager who will explain the contents of the file.
  • Legal advice may be sought before sharing a file, especially where the parent/carer has possible grounds for litigation against the Nursery or another (third party) agency.

Information Sharing Procedures

The Data Protection Act provides a framework to ensure that personal information about living persons is shared appropriately. The circumstances in which information can be shared are explained to parents/carers at registration, in the format of a data protection page and they sign a form to acknowledge they have read this and understand the circumstances when information may be shared without their consent. We are obliged to share confidential information without authorisation from the person who provided it, or to whom it relates, if it is in the public interest. This is when it is to prevent a crime from being committed or intervene where one may have happened or to prevent harm to a child or adult; or not sharing it could be worse than the outcome of having shared it.

Data Protection Form can be found in Appendix One.

The decision should never be made as an individual, but with the back-up of the Nursery Management Committee Chairman. The three critical criteria are:

  • Where there is evidence that the child is suffering, or is at risk of suffering, significant harm.
  • Where there is reasonable cause to believe that a child may be suffering, or at risk of suffering, significant harm.
  • To prevent significant harm arising to children and young people or serious harm to adults, including the prevention, detection and prosecution of serious crime.

Information shared must be accurate and up-to-date, necessary for the purpose it is being shared for, shared only with those who need to know and shared securely.  We will record decisions made and the reasons why information will be shared and to whom. Our Safeguarding Policy sets out how and where information should be recorded.

Working in Partnership with Other Agencies

We work in partnership with local and national agencies to promote the well-being of all children.

  • When working in partnership with staff from other agencies, we make those individuals welcome in the Nursery and their professional roles are respected.
  • We follow the protocols for working with agencies, for example on child protection.
  • Information shared by other agencies with us is regarded as third party information. This is also kept in confidence and not shared without consent from that agency.
  • Staff from other agencies do not have unsupervised access to the child they are visiting in the Nursery and do not have access to any other children during their visit.
  • We may consult with local and national agencies for advice and information to help us develop understanding of issues facing us and who can provide support and information for parents/carers.

List of Appendices:

Appendix One – Data Protection Form