Monday, 11 January 2010

Risk Assessments

This is an area of childminding that we all have to get to grips with.  Although we risk assess continually on an informal basis, there does need to be some written evidence of the actions we take to promote the safety of the children we care for.  In the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage, the specific legal requirements of risk assessment state that 'The provider must conduct a risk assessment and review it regularly - at least once a year or more frequently where the need arises'.  This involves a complete review of your setting, including all of the areas that you childmind such as lounge, hallway and stairs, bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchen, garden.  Many childminders review the risk assessment when a new child joins the setting, to ensure that the current safeguards will be enough to protect the new child. 
It also states that the risk assessment should identify checks that need to be made on a regular basis, and provide a record of having made these checks.  I keep a record of checks made weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly.  they serve as a handy reminder for me that they need doing and are easily available when Ofsted come to call. these include receipts for having had the boiler serviced and the chimney swept, the dog's vaccination card and worming receipts, and date, time and signature for things like checking the fire alarm weekly.
Risk assessments 'should cover anything with which a child may come into contact' (EYFS, 2008).  Recently I was reading about risk assessments and realised that there was a lot that I had not covered.  I have risk assessed visiting the park, travelling in the car, walking to the school, attending the 'stay and play' session, being near water, soft play areas that we use, National Trust Properties and I complete an assessment for visits to attractions. After reading information here  I made a new list of risks that I should assess.  These are: unregistered rooms (how do I prevent access?), handwashing facilities, technology used, cooking with children, mealtimes, loss of water or power and paperwork storage.  This section particularly made me think more about the outside areas of my home, I had never considered assessing the driveway before the recent snowy weather made it icy and treacherous!
I would recommend starting with a main assessment of your home.  On the first page write the date that you assessed, and when you need to review it, along with your name and signature.  Use the pages linked to above to give you ideas for what areas to assess and look critically at each room in turn.  You can list hazards that you have already tackled, such as plug sockets and putting covers in them, as well as hazards that need attention and what you need to do.  Remember to sign and date when you have addressed them! There are some ideas on this page for assessing your home, but remember that your setting is unique and there may be other things that you need to think about!
As for me, I have reflected on my risk assessments and written a list of actions that need to be addressed.  i will post about them as I complete them!

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