Child found unattended at home

Follow this procedure when a child is found unattended at home.

Introduction

If a child is found unattended at home, the child must not be left, unless you have assessed that it is safe to do so. Steps must be taken to ensure immediate safety and to locate an appropriate caregiver.

Child protection practitioners do not have the authority to enter any home without the consent of the occupier.

For additional information see Child found unattended at home - advice.

Procedure

Case practitioner

  • Do not enter the home without the consent of the occupier if you find a child unattended at home.
  • Do not accept an invitation from the child to enter the home.
  • The only limited exception to the above restrictions is if you believe a child is in significant and imminent danger inside the home. In such circumstances it is appropriate to take only those steps that are necessary and reasonable to remove the child from such danger.
  • Assess the child’s safety:
    • You may speak with the child about their immediate situation while remaining outside.
    • Explain your role and mandate in an age-appropriate manner.
    • Ask about parents’ whereabouts, arrangements for supervision and how long the child has been unattended.
  • The child may come outside, in which case you could, if necessary, place the child in emergency care and issue a protection application.
  • Remain at the home until the situation is resolved. Do not leave the child unattended.
  • Call the police if necessary for urgent assistance.
  • Apply for a search warrant if necessary, enabling the police to gain entry to the home.
  • You may need to place the child in emergency care and issue a protection application or, if there is a current order, a breach of order application if the parents cannot be located after reasonable enquiries, and no other suitable person can be found who is willing and able to care for the child.

Supervisor tasks

  • Support the practitioner to manage the situation when a child is found unattended at home.
  • Consider whether it is necessary to place the child in emergency care and issue a protection application or, if there is a current order, a breach of order application if the parents cannot be located after reasonable enquiries, and no other suitable person can be found who is willing and able to care for the child.
  • Consider whether the parents may have committed an offence under s. 494 of the CYFA by leaving the child unattended. Report the matter to the police if you believe an offence has been committed.

 

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