Opinion: In My View - Unequal protection

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The Vetting and Barring Scheme was introduced to raise the levels of protection for all children in our society. Yet the provisions of the scheme still allow for significant discrepancies, according to the way in which a childcarer is recruited.

Registration with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) commences from July 2010. If a nanny is supplied by an agency, the agency will have the duty to check that the nanny is registered with the ISA, which itself checks that there is no known reason why the person should not work with children. The agency will also carry out other suitability and safeguarding checks. However, nannies employed directly by parents are exempt from the scheme; they do not need to register with the ISA, as they are employed under a private arrangement.

This is a dangerous situation that puts children at risk. Legislation needs to be brought in to ensure that all childcarers have the same checks, so providing an equal level of protection. All nannies should be required to register with the ISA so all parents can run the check before trusting them with their children. This will provide minimum, albeit insufficient, evidence that the person can be allowed to care for children.

Using an agency to recruit a nanny has always been safer than just hiring someone from an advertisement online or in the local paper. This will continue to be the case, as the ISA registration of an individual means that there is no known reason why he or she should not work with children, rather than that the individual is safe to do so. Professional recruitment agencies will undertake all necessary checks, including the ISA, but they will also interview all nannies and check references to ensure the chosen nanny is suitable for the job.

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