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Keeping kids safe push by Highland Child Protection Committee sparks huge lockdown response

By Ian Duncan

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Jaci Douglas.
Jaci Douglas.

The Highland Child Protection Committee (HCPC) has been working in partnership with a Highland-wide charity to ensure the delivery of child protection courses continues during the coronavirus lockdown.

Both the Care and Learning Alliance (CALA) and HCPC have been blown away by the massive uptake the online child protection modules have received with more than 5000 people accessing the training since the beginning of lockdown nationwide – this includes parents, students, teachers and a range of childcare professionals.

HCPC brings together a wealth of knowledge and expertise from across statutory and third sector partners to ensure that children and young people in Highland communities are protected and safeguarded.

The committee is responsible for ensuring a competent and confident workforce across all services and, prior to the coronavirus pandemic, delivered face-to-face training to more than 6000 people a year on topics around child protection.

The online courses on offer from CALA include an introduction to child protection; child sexual exploitation and children affected by parental substance use.

Since lockdown began, HCPC and CALA have worked to ensure as many people as possible continue to have access to training opportunities.

Speaking about the huge uptake of the online courses, Jaci Douglas, the chief executive of CALA said: “We have been absolutely delighted to watch the significantly increased participation levels across all of the child protection courses on offer.

“During the months of April and May, we saw 2497 modules being accessed by users in Highland which is absolutely amazing.

"Following discussions with the Highland Child Protection Committee, we agreed to open up the courses across all Scottish Local Authority areas and promote them to other Child Protection Committees, as free learning.

"As a result, we have seen a further 2566 course registrations from across the rest of the country which just shows the high level of commitment to helping to keep children safe.”

Karen Ralston.
Karen Ralston.

Karen Ralston, the interim chairwoman of the Highland Child Protection Committee, added: “The committee has been delighted to work in partnership with CALA to develop this amazing online resource for those working with or looking after children, young people and families.

“The update clearly shows that those with an interest in child protection are using their lockdown time to learn, update or improve their knowledge around this hugely important area.

“The figures for Highland sign-ups, as well as those from another 28 local authorities are absolutely incredible and beyond what we would have hoped for when the resource was initially developed.

“What we are offering in Highland is very much in line with the message of our partners in Child Protection Committees Scotland who have been using the hashtag #KeepingKidsSafeC19 throughout this time.

"At a time when children are not attending school, there has never been a more important time for individuals to have an understanding of child protection and what to do if they are concerned about a child or young person.

“I would encourage staff working in the childcare sector that may be furloughed or individuals in communities with an interest in childcare to sign-up and make use of this great online resource – with the bonus that it comes at no extra cost to the individual, employer or organisation.”

Ms Douglas said: “CALA has been extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the Highland Child Protection Committee to develop these important online learning modules over the last few years and I am delighted the courses seem to be hitting the mark for those looking to continue their learning during these extremely challenging times.”

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