Certification with Keeping Children Safe
How does it work?
Organisations interested in going through the certification process will make an enquiry to the Keeping Children Safe Consultancy Manager - Alex Dressler. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org He will respond to the application to explain the certification process further, and to agree next steps including costs and signing of the certification agreement/contract.
Following initial consultation and agreements with Keeping Children Safe (KCS), a principal KCS auditor and a KCS mentor will be appointed to support the organisation through the certification process. The mentor’s role will be to provide on-going liaison and support to the organisation, so acting as a point of contact for information and communication, providing clarification on the requirements of the certification process and offering direct services as necessary, such as training and/or consultancy in meeting the demands of the improvement plan, for example.
The initial stage of the certification process involves a self-assessment process. The self-assessment is made against all the certification standards and criteria, a number of which are highlighted and represent the minimum an organisation must meet in order to be operating at a basic level of ‘child safeguarding’ performance. The remaining criteria must also be achieved in order for the organisation to be assessed as ‘child safe’.
The self-assessment tool also contains a risk profiler, which helps KCS assess the context in which the organisation works and the kinds of safeguarding risks it is likely to be facing
All offices across the organisation must complete the self-assessment, including sub-national offices as applicable although Country Offices will be expected to provide one consolidated return from their national programme and its sub-offices or programme site locations.
Self-assessments and supporting evidence are returned to KCS for review by the principal auditor. The auditor will then arrange follow up interviews with the organisation in order to gather further information, seek more detailed explanation or clarification of the returns and/or documentation, and also test the validity of some aspects of the safeguarding arrangements, as appropriate
A brief evaluation report with recommendation regarding Level 1 certification is made by the principal auditor to the Certification Panel as to whether the organisation meets Level 1 standard. A number of outcomes are possible at this stage:
Organisations achieving Level 1 certification can opt to leave the scheme, but those wishing to achieve full certification will need to go through an audit process conducted face-to-face by KCS safeguarding auditor/s.
The KCS mentor would work with the organisation to develop a plan for supporting achievement of Level 2 certification.
Where organisations are not awarded Level 1 certification, the KCS mentor would work with the organisation to develop an improvement plan designed to ensure a successful re-assessment.
As identified in the improvement plan and as agreed with the organisation via a separate contract, KCS would provide training and/or consultancy and any other supports required to assist the organisation in meeting improvement targets. These services would be delivered by the KCS mentor and/or other KCS consultants.
KCS has developed a comprehensive, robust and professional audit approach to certification based largely on models deployed in major International NGOs. The main aims of the certification audit are to validate the information provided through the self-assessment process and to test the robustness of the safeguarding measures of the organisation. The audit process involves review of child safeguarding and other organisational documentation as well as site visits to Head Office and field locations.
Details of the audit for full certification would be agreed between KCS and the organisation.
For larger organisations working across a number of locations, a representative sample of offices will be selected by KCS based on self-assessment returns and the risk ratings for individual offices. The KCS mentor will continue to liaise with the organisation to support preparation and planning for the audit.
In order for a larger organisation to be assessed as meeting the criteria for certification for the organization as a whole, offices in the sample will have to achieve certain levels of performance. Ideally all offices should meet all minimum standards, although where offices are determined to be medium or low risk, a degree of tolerance will be built in. Overall, the sample must demonstrate 80% compliance with all standards for full certification (Level 2) to be recommended
A detailed report of the audit findings is presented to the Certification Panel with recommendations on full certification. The Panel, comprising The KCS Director, KCS Training and Consultancy Manager, a KCS Board Member and an independent safeguardingand/or Quality Assurance expert, will determine whether or not the organisation is awarded full (Level 2) certification.
KCS will work with organisations that are not certified by the Panel to develop an improvement plan based on the outcomes of the certification audit. Depending on the extent of the shortfall in meeting certification standards, the organisation may then need to produce a report within a set timescale detailing how gaps or exceptions have been addressed and/or be subject to further direct audit in order to be considered for certification
KCS will work with organisations that are not certified by the Panel to develop an improvement plan based on the outcomes of the certification audit. Depending on the extent of the shortfall in meeting certification standards, the organisation may then need to produce a report within a set timescale detailing how gaps or exceptions have been addressed and/or be subject to further direct audit in order to be considered for certification.
Where an organisation disputes the outcome of the certification process, it is entitled to lodge an appeal, which will be considered by an independent arbitrator and governed by the Certification Appeals Procedure.
Where an organisation wishes to make a complaint about any aspect of the certification process, including the conduct of any KCS staff or associates involved in certification, the KCS complaints mechanism should be used for this purpose.
KCS will issue certificates for a period of three years following successful completion of the certification process. Re-certification involves the organisation completing all steps of the certification process as previously undertaken.
The length of time taken to pass through the whole certification process will depend very much on size of the organisation and the exact nature of the process (whether improvement plans are necessary or extensive, for example) but a typical process may take around 6 – 7 months.