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to think the NCT should CRB check its volunteers?

(160 Posts)
leicestershiregirl Tue 06-Sep-11 15:01:36

Just wanted to sound some mums out about this. Until last year I was a volunteer for the NCT and something that always bothered me about it was the fact that they don't CRB check their volunteers or require them to do safeguarding children training. This is in spite of the fact that volunteers are often in close proximity to children e.g. at mother and baby groups.

Comparable organisations e.g. Homestart, La Leche League and the Breastfeeding Network all require CRBs. Everybody working in a school or hospital requires one even if they don't have direct contact with students/patients. For my job with the NHS I also had to have safeguarding children training and we were told we have a duty of care to any children we come across, even if they are just visitors to the hospital.

This seems good and right to me, but when I brought it up with the NCT, first with other volunteers then with the Board of Trustees I was told NCT volunteers do not require CRB checks by law because they are never alone with children, they would be too expensive and they're not effective anyway because they can't tell you if somebody is going to commit a crime.

Am I alone in thinking this is absolutely crazy? Teaching assistants or Sure Start workers are never alone with children but they have to get checked, and rightly so - a school is not an appropriate place to work for somebody convicted of child abuse (and neither is an NCT mother and baby group). As for the expense, what is more important than child protection? And as for the argument they're not effective, that's just dumb.

Please tell me what you think.

leicestershiregirl Tue 06-Sep-11 15:04:32

Want to add NCT specialist workers, e.g. breastfeeding counsellors, who make home visits, are not CRB checked either.

GypsyMoth Tue 06-Sep-11 15:05:28

Well the mother is there isn't she? In schools there is no patent present, so very different

But who would pay for all these crb checks and training?

GypsyMoth Tue 06-Sep-11 15:05:50


BananaMontana Tue 06-Sep-11 15:06:59

Private organisations can make the choice to have the check done, or not.
Presumably because TAs and Sure Start volunteers are government funded, there is no option but to be checked.

mistlethrush Tue 06-Sep-11 15:08:13

The NCT coffee mornings I went to had no 'volunteers' - just other mothers. And the 'volunteers' that help out at the Nearly New sale might only help out once - and surely any children attending should be with their parents anyway (although I have had to send out a search party for parents of one pair when I was helping one time) - CRB checking all mothers that go to coffee mornings and everyone that may (or may not) help out at a sale would be rather excessive, surely?

Birdsgottafly Tue 06-Sep-11 15:08:14

I think that the safeguarding training is more important.

This forum has really brought home to me that most people don't understand the reason for the law and guidelines on CP.

The only concern with not having CRB checks that i would have is not only for the DC's but if they are coming ing contact with vulnerable adults, including mums with PND.

Also if a sex offender came across a abusive parent, then that is creating a ring of offending, but i don't know how likely that would be in your area.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Tue 06-Sep-11 15:08:18

The argument they're not effective is not dumb, it's true. Just because a child abuser has not yet been caught doesn't mean they're not a child abuser. These checks result in a false sense of security imvho.

banana87 Tue 06-Sep-11 15:08:52

But they aren't in sole charge of the children, so why require a CRB check? Just because they are around children? In that case the whole population should be CRB checked!

smoggii Tue 06-Sep-11 15:09:57

NCTs argument sounds perfectly reasonable.

Smellslikecatpee Tue 06-Sep-11 15:10:57

CRB only picks up if you have been convicted of a crime, there has been several crimes etc recently where the criminal would have passed a CRB.

I would have thought though that some training on picking on on signs of abuse etc (which is what I assume the safeguarding children training is) would have been essential.

Birdsgottafly Tue 06-Sep-11 15:11:07

X posted, breastfeeding counsellors should be CRB, if they are visiting people at home, i think.

ivykaty44 Tue 06-Sep-11 15:11:51

Should the mother also be CRB checked before she gives birth? As the mother will be alone with the child

hairylights Tue 06-Sep-11 15:12:42

Nct volunteers are also dealing directly with vulnerable adults, potentially (new mums) who could be highly impressionable. I think they are very unwise.

Birdsgottafly Tue 06-Sep-11 15:13:09

The POVA and POVC lists were often of more use than CRB's.

hairylights Tue 06-Sep-11 15:14:27

Crb checks will never highlight a person who's never been caught. But they will always show someone who has. So they are effective - in identifying people with criminal records.

inchoccyheaven Tue 06-Sep-11 15:14:28

I personally think the NCT is right. CRBs are only any good if a person has been caught and has a criminal record in which case I imagine most times a person who has been caught is not very likely to apply for a job where they know it will be found out.

They are expensive and have to be kept uptodate otherwise it is a waste of ,money. I have volunteered many times at school for various things school trips etc and had to have a CRB done as I was going to be with the children for several weeks at a time doing the footsteps course and it was going to be difficult for them to make sure there was always a CRB person with me, however it didn't come through until after I had done all the footsteps so what would they have done if it had come back I had a criminal record???
As my children have got older the opportunities to help out have been fewer and if you don't do something at least every 3 months it lapses and the school would have had to pay for another one. Crazy.

If the NCT person is never being left with children on their own then why do they need one?

worraliberty Tue 06-Sep-11 15:14:29

A lot of TA's are alone with children...reading recovery is one example.

I don't think CRB checks are necessary if they're not alone with children. They're an expensive waste of money.

leicestershiregirl Tue 06-Sep-11 15:15:23

In my branch we had volunteers who helped out at the mother and baby group. It was those I felt should be CRB checked, as they volunteer on a regular basis, not people who assist at Nearly New Sales. Gotta run, late for work!

halcyondays Tue 06-Sep-11 15:22:51

What exactly are these volunteers doing? Teaching assistants are usually working with the same children every day and they may be helping children with toilet accidents and taking children to the loo on school trips, so of course they should be checked. Surestart workers may sometimes look after children in a creche while parents are doing a course.

That said, I'm surprised that the NCT don't check its volunteers. HomeStart volunteers are all checked as far as I'm aware, even if they are just helping at a HomeStart parent and toddler group where parents are there. Most organisations tend to err on the side of caution these days.

itisnearlysummer Tue 06-Sep-11 16:19:47

Most TAs spend a fair bit of time alone working with individual and small groups of children, supervising changing for PE and they assist with personal care where necessary (e.g. accidents in reception).

Perhaps Home Start check because they are geared towards supporting vulnerable families.

If there are people present who are checked, then I don't think it's necessary for everyone to be checked so long as they are all under the management of the checked person and not left unsupervised with the children. I volunteered in a school once and wasn't CRB checked. I just wasn't left alone with the children either.

I don't think that everyone who ever has any contact with children should have a CRB, that would include the people on the desk at the library and the lady in the sweet shop.

I agree they give a false sense of security. The minute a CRB clearance is issued it is out of date.

Tota1Xaos Tue 06-Sep-11 17:11:00

Yabu. I agree with the NCT's reasoning, there's more of a case for safeguarding training than compulsory CRBs.

Snowsquonk Tue 06-Sep-11 17:28:16

I volunteer weekly with my NCT branch - helping at a Bumps & Babies group. The children remain the responsibility of the parents at all times, although that doesn't stop some mums asking me to hold their baby whilst they nip to the loo - so if this happens (and it's usually a mum who knows me well) I will always sit with the other mums so I am in view all the time - keeps it normal for the baby/little one and provides me with a little protection against allegations - might sound paranoid but it suits me.

SmilingHappyBeaver Tue 06-Sep-11 19:24:34

YABVU. NCT volunteers provide invaluable support to new parents, particularly those in roles such as organising mother and baby groups, and those volunteers who offer "class support" (not offered by all branches) where new parents attend the house of a volunteer after the formal classes have finished, until the youngest baby is about 6 weeks old and the parents can arrange their own meet-ups. These events give people a reason to get up and get out of the house often at a critical time after the birth of a new baby, which can have hugely positive effects to reduce baby blues and potentially avoid/reduce PND.

The NCT relies on a flexible and generous pool of volunteers who can dip in and dip out of volunteering duties as their busy lives dictate. The CRB process can take several months to complete, and would be a ridulous waste of money for a charity to spend on people who may only volunteer for a matter of weeks before returning to work.

The "risks" could not be any smaller, as the babies are always in the company of a parent. Personally, I can't think of many ideas that would be more detrimental to the NCT and similar charities. It would cause a massive reduction in the peer support services the NCT offers, and that in itself would outweight any possible "risks" mitigated by forcing CRB checks.

whackamole Tue 06-Sep-11 20:43:28

Erm, no I don't think they should be. They are never alone with the children without a parent.

I think you are really thinking far too much into it.

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