Safeguarding standards with FCDO

Keeping Children Safe has completed a lengthy project with the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), formerly known as DFID, to help the department promote and assess safeguarding standards in the relief and development sector. FCDO now has in place standards under the DFID Enhanced Due Diligence: Safeguarding for external partners that cover partner policies and processes on safeguarding, whistleblowing, human resources, risk management, codes of conduct and governance. These standards help FCDO to assess an organisation’s ability to prevent Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment (SEAH). Keeping Children Safe assessed safeguarding measures in 32 of FCDO’s biggest CSO partners, using the FCDO (DFID) standards, as well KCS’s International Child Safeguarding Standards, which are broader than prevention of SEAH, in that they address all forms of harm. They also focus on the specific needs of children. In addition, Keeping Children Safe was commissioned to support FCDO to develop guidance on safeguarding children. This guidance builds on the enhanced due diligence safeguarding guidance. It sets out additional questions under each of the six policy areas for FCDO to consider for organisations delivering programmes that will involve them coming into contact directly or indirectly with children. These questions are based on the internationally recognised Keeping Children Safe Standards. They are designed to help FCDO assess organisations’ child safeguarding policies and processes to ensure their programmes and operations do not put children at risk of harm and to enable them to respond appropriately when concerns and incidents arise.

Child Safeguarding in DFID’s work

The guidance sets out FCDO’s approach to child safeguarding in the following way: children are particularly vulnerable to violence, abuse and exploitation due to their lack of power and agency. Child safeguarding is therefore central to FCDO’s mandate to support the world’s most poor and vulnerable. In many of the contexts in which FCDO works (such as extreme poverty, conflict, and natural disasters), there can be an increased risk of child abuse and exploitation. Violence and exploitation have long-lasting impacts on children’s health, their capacity to learn and their economic prospects in later life. FCDO has a responsibility to protect the children we work with, are in contact with, or who are affected by our work and operations. We also have a responsibility to help our partners meet at least the minimum requirements on child safeguarding. All organisations that work with or come into contact with children are especially required to have safeguarding policies and procedures in place and actively enforced to ensure the rights of all children to protection from harm are upheld

How this guidance will be applied

This guidance should apply to all FCDO programmes that involve children. This could be where children are the main beneficiaries (e.g. an education, health or social protection programme) or when programmes come into contact with children (e.g. consultants for an infrastructure or livelihood investment programme will come into contact with children on-site). There are contexts in which children may be at greater safeguarding risk. This can be perpetuated due to power imbalances and gender inequality. For example, in the school setting a child may be at risk of facing corporal punishment or be pressured to have “sex for grades”. Children who do not have the protection of an adult, such as those without a parent or caregiver including in residential care, may also be more vulnerable. Risks need to be considered through a gender, age, ethnicity and disability analysis, as well as through the lens of those who may be discriminated against due to their background in any given context. FCDO will take a proportionate approach in accordance with the level of risk associated with the programme. For programmes working directly with children and considered a higher child safeguarding risk, organisations must provide proportionate evidence in all six areas, including by answering all questions relevant to their programme, and be compliant on a risk-based approach.

We are here to help

To find out if your organisation is doing all it can to keep children safe, start by using our free FCDO (DFID) self-assessment tool that will help you to discover your strengths and weaknesses. Or, for more advice and information on how we can help you, please do get in touch with our team today.

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