Earthplace Preschool Policies and Procedures


Abuse and Neglect Policy

All of our staff have a responsibility to prevent child abuse and neglect of any children involved in our center. 
 
Child abuse is defined as a child who has had
  • any non-accidental physical or mental injury (i.e. shaking, beating, burning)
  • any form of sexual abuse (i.e. sexual exploitation)
  • emotional abuse (i.e. excessive belittling, berating, or teasing which impairs the child's psychological growth) 
  • at risk behavior (i.e. placing a child in a situation which might endanger him by abuse of neglect) 
  • injuries which are inconsisitent with the explanation given.
Child neglect is defined as a child who has been:
  • abandoned
  • denied proper care and attention physically, educationally, emotionally, for example a child who has not been provided appropriate food, clothing, shelter, education, mental care and supervision, or
  • allowed to live under circumstances, conditions, or associations injurious to his/her well being (CT GS 46b-120).
As defined in the Connecticut General Statutes, an abused child or youth could be anyone eighteen years of age or younger, who has been inflicted with physical injury or injuries other than by accidental means, has injuries which are at a variance with the history given them, or is in a condition which is the result of maltreatment such as but not limited to malnutrition, sexual molestation or exploitation, deprivation of necessities, emotional maltreatment, or cruel punishment. Teachers are informed of and are required to know the indicators of different forms of abuse and neglect. 
 
Physical abuse indicators:
  • The child has bruises, broken bones, lacerations, puncture marks, swollen areas, missing hair, bites, or burn marks.
  • The child has frequent signs of major or minor injuries.
  • The child has different injuries in various stages of healing.
  • The parent or child gives odd or impossible explanations for the child's injuries.
  • The child is frequently tardy or absent.
  • The child receives overdue, unsuitable, or no treatment for injuries.
Emotional abuse indicators:
  • The child cannot interact well socially, has very low self-esteem, or is listless, apathetic, or depressed and cannot respond to normal adult behavior.
  • The child has a parent who treats the child in unusual or abnormal ways, such as refusing to care for or talk to the child, treating the child as an object, keeping the child from normal social experiences, punishing the child for his/her normal behavior, and/or thinking or feeling in a consistently negative way about the child.
Sexual abuse indicators
Physical signs:
Pain or injury in the mouth or the genital areas, irritated, reddened, or itching genitals, urinary infections, difficulty with urination, and/or unusual orders.
Behavioral signs
Fear of a person or of certain places, clinging, anxiety, a sudden interest in the genitals of others, unsuitable sexual activity for the child's age, and a return to infantile behavior.
 
Neglect indicators:
  • The child is anxious about his or her survival.
  • The child lacks energy or is overactive.
  • The child is unable to concentrate or to play.
  • The child often seeks attention.
  • The child is hungry and/or dirty.
  • The child's clothes are inappropriate for the weather.
Prevention of abuse and neglect outside of school
Earthplace has a responsibility to prevent the abuse and neglect of the children enrolled in our school. Teachers are informed of and are required to know signs of suspected abuse. 
 
According to the American Red Cross, teachers may suspect abuse when:
  • The child shows sudden behavior changes or erratic behavior.
  • The child becomes withdrawn.
  • The child is hostile or extremely aggressive.
  • The child is suspicious or watchful of others' actions, as if fearing them.
Given our adherence to a Zero Tolerance Policy with abuse and neglect, it is our plan to ensure that the staff is aware of the signs of abuse or neglect. The staff at Earthplace Preschool must take immediate action to help the child whom they suspect is being abused or neglected. As mandated reporters, the director and teachers of Earthplace Preschool must report actual or suspected abuse or neglect or the imminent risk of serious harm of any child to the Department of Children and Families as required by section 17a-101 to section 17a-101e, inclusive of the Connecticut General Statutes. 
 
In the event of suspected abuse and/or neglect staff actions are as follows:
 
Treat injuries
The teachers treat any immediate injury that is within the scope of their first aid training.
Provide clothing
The teachers provide appropriate clothing for a child who needs it.
Increase nutrition at school
The teachers provide extra snacks or lunches for a child who is hungry.
Emotional support of a child
The teachers provide emotional support within their role as the child's teacher.
Access to community resources
We as a staff must become familiar with the students' families and view our role as a support system. We, our Social Services consultant, and community resources could be called in to help give families guidance. The director of the preschool utilizes contacts in the community to set up needed resources for the child and family. These include medical, social service, financial, and nutritional resources. 
Call 911:
If the teachers witness the physical abuse, or suspect a child's life is in danger, then 911 is called immediately. 
Call Department of Children and Families:
Next, or at the same time, the teacher or the director will call the Child Protection Careline at the Department of Children and Families (DCF), open 24 hours a day, 1-800-842-2288. The reporter's name is required but may be kept confidential. The call is made within 12 hours of the suspected abuse. The person calling describes the reason for his/her suspicion of abuse and/or neglect and the indicators that have been observed.
Reporting abuse:
After the call to DCF, a written report (DCF-136) is sent to the Department of Children and Families at P.O. Box 882, Middletown, CT 06457, within 48 hours of the suspected abuse or neglect. The report is also given to the Director of Earthplace and the Chairman of the Board. All reports to DCF shall be documented and kept in the child's file at Earthplace. A copy of all statements from staff and DCF shall also be kept on file. 
 
This report includes the following:
  • Names, addresses, and phone numbers of the child and his parents and/or guardians;
  • The age and gender of the child;
  • Relevant information such as physical or behavioral indicator, nature and extent of injury, maltreatment or neglect;
  • Exact description of what the reporter has observed;
  • The approximate date and time of the injury, abuse, or neglect;
  • Any information about previous injuries, maltreatment,or neglect to this child that staff knows about;
  • A description of the circumstances under which the reporter learned of abuse/neglect;
  • The names of the person or persons suspected of being responsible for the abuse/neglect;
  • Any information the reporter believes would be helpful;
  • Descriptions of the actions taken to treat, provide shelter, or otherwise assist the child;
  • Medical attention given to the child if necessary.
Prevention of abuse and neglect In school
It is also the responsibility of Earthplace Preschool to prevent any abuse or neglect that could happen at our school. In order to prevent abuse and neglect at our school the following are done:
  • Review the approved and prohibited disciplinary techniques on a yearly basis;
  • Brainstorm to help teachers figure out ways to deal with disruptive behaviors;
  • Review the indicators of abuse and neglect on a yearly basis;
  • Conduct a thorough check of the references of new staff;
  • Orient new staff using the above policy;
  • Supervise new teachers on a close and consistent basis;
  • Do a background check on all teachers, including fingerprinting;
  • Parents and volunteers from organized middle and high school programs are directly supervised by the teaching staff. Earthplace Preschool does not utilize other adult volunteers.
Prohibited discipline techniques
In accordance with the State of Connecticut Department of Health Regulations the following discipline techniques are prohibited from being used at Earthplace:
 
Inappropriate removal
The teachers may not keep a child out of play for more than three minutes in the room or 10 minutes out of the room.
 
Physical restraint
  • Teachers may not use physical restraint unless the child is in danger of hurting himself or others. The restraint consists of the teacher wrapping his/her arms around the child.
  • The director and staff may not tie nor bind children and shall not physically restrain children except for the protection and safety of the child or others, using the least restrictive methods.
Abusive or neglectful punishment
Teachers may not use abusive, neglectful, corporal, humiliating, or frightening punishment under any circumstances. 
 
If a teacher, administrator or parent suspects a staff member of any of the above actions, the following steps, reflecting a Zero Tolerance Policy for abuse and neglect, would be taken:
  • Report suspicion to the director of the Preschool, director of Earthplace, and chairman of Earthplace board.
  • Call the Child Protection Careline (1-800-842-2288) to report the suspicion of abuse or neglect. Again the call must be made within twelve (12) hours of the suspected abuse.
  • Notify the child's parent or legal guardian responsible for the child's care that a report has been made. One of the above administrators calls the parent to explain that a report has been made, what the report says, and what further action and investigation will be taken.
  • Suspend the staff member with pay until investigation by Department of Children and Families (DCF) is completed. The staff member is not allowed in the building when the school is in session. The staff member is only allowed in the facility at other times when requested to be there by the Earthplace board.
  • Submit the written report within 48 hours of the suspected abuse. Follow the same criteria as for the reporting of an individual who is not a staff member.
  • Additionally a call must be placed to the Department of Public Health at 1-800-282-6063 or 1-860-509-8045.
  • Convene the Earthplace board to oversee the internal review, which includes:
            1. Interviewing the adults who witnessed and/or reported the abuse or neglect;
            2. Reporting any findings to the DCF;
            3. Recommending either continued employment or termination, based on DCF findings.
 
  • Protect the child during the investigation. The child's teachers receive advice from our Social Service consultant for working with the child in the classroom.
Policy protection of staff as mandated reporters:
Earthplace will not discharge, discriminate, or retaliate against any employee who, in good faith, files an abuse or neglect report, in accordance with Connecticut General Statutes, Section 17a-101e. The staff also knows they are immune from any liability civil or criminal when making a good faith report. 
 
Informing parents

The Earthplace Preschool Abuse and Neglect Policy is included on our Policies and Procedures page of the website.