Tips for Staying Safe
Childcare.co.uk is committed to helping all of our users to stay safe.
We remind parents that we cannot personally check the details of every childcare provider that registers with us and we remind childcare providers that they must be cautious about visiting parents in their homes or inviting strangers to visit them before background and other checks have been completed because of the potential safeguarding risks.
Online safety is a big issue and one which we take very seriously. Any information placed on a platform is available for public view and we recommend that members are cautious about how much personal and family information they share in their profiles.
We recommend you read the information below about the things we do to try and make our service as safe and secure as possible, together with what you can do stay safe and protect yourself.
Members can optionally create a public profile detailing their childcare requirements or childcare services. The information we request has specifically been designed to ensure maximum safety and security. In particular we do not show the full real names of members on our platform and instead members choose an 8 character alias upon registration known as a screen name.
For safety reasons we advise members not to include detailed personally identifiable information in their profiles such as their surname, street name, postcode, place of work, childrens names or ages. We recommend that members do not upload photos containing children for child protection reasons.
A member of our team check all profiles before publishing them on our platform to make sure they are appropriate and do not contain offensive or inappropriate language. This might cause a short delay if we are particularly busy, but we feel it is worth the extra time to ensure that the content is suitable. Each time a profile is edited, the changes won't appear until they have been approved by a human operator.
We use proprietary technology to monitor our platform 24 hours a day in order to help detect suspicious activity. This involves a range of both automated and manual security checks. Our systems automatically alert our security team about suspicious activity flagged for further investigation. A temporary suspension may be placed on an account whilst an investigation is being carried out. If we cannot be satisfied that a user is genuine then accounts may be permanently suspended. We maintain blacklists based upon historical activity in order to prevent banned members registering in the future.
The Childcare.co.uk community is over 2 million people. Each profile contains a 'Report' button to allow members to easily and immediately report a profile to our safety team if they have any concerns or worries. Our safety team work 365 days a year to monitor our platform and investigate any concerns.
We have a zero tolerance policy on abusive or inappropriate use of our platform. Any member found to be acting in an inappropriate or abusive manner is permanently suspended without warning.
Safe & Secure Messaging
We recommend that all communication between members is carried out using our proprietary safe and secure messaging system until you feel safe to communicate outside of our platform. Communicating via our messaging system means that you do not have to disclose any personal details such as your full name or email address to other parties.
To prevent abuse of our messaging system, members have individual daily message sending limits which are kept low by default and are increased only when we are satisfied that usage is genuine.
We retain a detailed log of all member to member messaging conversations which can be referred to in the event of any disputes, complaints or legal issues.
Members can report to our safety team, any messages that they feel are inappropriate or require further investigation by clicking the 'Report Conversation' button when viewing a message conversation.
Secure Document Validation and Sharing
Childcare providers and tutors can optionally upload their DBS checks, registration certificates, identity documents, qualifications, references and full CV to our My Documents secure digital vault.
Once a document is uploaded, it is digitally watermarked, encrypted, stored securely and queued for review by a member of our document validation team.
The document is manually validated by a human operator to ensure it appears to be genuine and the details contained within the document are compared with the details we hold on file for the provider. If the details match then the document is approved and provider's profile will show details of the approved documents that we hold on file for them.
Providers can optionally choose to share their approved documents with parent members. Providers are in complete control over which parents can see their documents.
Read more about the security of your documents and what we do to keep them safe.
Security of your Contact Details
If you choose to optionally add your direct contact details, such as your telephone number or email address, to the Profile Plus section of your profile, then each time they are accessed by another member we record details of the person who has done so. This information is also made available to the profile owner under the Who's Looked at Me? page.
We strictly limit the number of contact details that each member can access in a 24 hour period to ensure this information is not abused and to protect our membership data.
If you do not wish other members to have access to your direct contact details then do not complete the Profile Plus section of your profile.
Childcare Provider Reviews
Parent members are able to leave public reviews for childcare providers and the provider has the facility to respond. This promotes safety as it allows parents a voice if they have concerns about a care provider, while at the same time ensuring good practice is shared and high quality working practices celebrated.
All reviews must be approved by a member of our human moderation team before they appear on our platform. Read our review guidelines.
Many parents prefer the reassurance of using a childcare provider who has received multiple positive reviews.
If you've had a good, or bad, experience of a childcare provider then please take the time to leave a childcare provider review to help other parents.
Face to Face Interviews
Parents should always conduct face to face interviews with childcare providers before using their services. We have lots of help and advice on our website including guides on finding the right babysitter, choosing the right nanny and nanny interview questions.
Childcare providers should never accept a job from anyone they have not met in person.
When meeting for the first time we strongly recommend that both parties meet in a safe public place such as a coffee shop. Always tell someone else when and where you are going to meet.
Members can choose to block other members by clicking the 'Block' button on their profile. This will prevent the member being able to view your profile whilst logged in. It will also prevent them contacting you via our messaging system or accessing your direct contact details.
Safety From Spammers
Spammers range from online mischief makers to big businesses who seek to steal and misuse information and personal details. We are on our guard against spammers or those who seek to join our platform with the intention of misusing the information they might obtain.
In our aim to prevent spam and abuse of our messaging system we limit the number of messages each member can send in a 24 hour period. We keep a record of every message sent and have sophisticated manual and automated security systems to monitor our platform and flag up anything that could be suspicious.
When a member receives a new message, if the content is inappropriate, they can report it to our safety team who are able to investigate further and take appropriate action.
Records of all messages sent are stored on our servers in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and our registration with the Information Commissioners Office. This ensures messages can be accessed in the event of a query by the Police or other agencies for crime, public safety and fraud prevention purposes.
Protecting Yourself From Scams
Unfortunately there are some people who try to part us from our hard earned money by scamming us online. We are all wise to spam emails and do not follow links, however inviting the offer. However, some scammers target childcarers by offering money up front to care for a child ‘not currently in the country’ or ‘travelling from abroad shortly’.
If a job offer seems suspicious, fees seem ‘too good to be true’ or if advance payment is offered without checks having been completed, we advise all childcarers to be on their guard.
Childcare Providers are often a target for scammers. Read our Top 10 Tips on How to Avoid Nanny and Babysitter Scams and report anything suspicious to our team.
Payments sent or received to/from other Members
You should never accept payment from any member you have not met in person. A common online scam involves fraudsters sending cheques or wiring money to individuals who then request that you send the money back or use the money to buy goods to send back in the post.
Such a fraud is taken very seriously by the online fraud squad and by Childcare.co.uk so please contact us if such an approach is made via our platform and we will act promptly to protect our members from future approaches.
Similarly, you should never send money to any person you have not met in person.
We recommend all our members protect their log in details and passwords and do not share them with others. Your computer, mobile device or web browser may ask you if you wish to save your login details. For security reasons, to prevent unauthorised access to you account by anyone who may have access to your computer or mobile device, we advise against storing passwords.
If members lose or misplace their password, they can use our online password reset service to change it quickly and easily. If your email account is hacked, we advise members to reset their password to ensure continued online safety.
Please note that we take password sharing very seriously and will not hesitate to suspend an account if a password is misused or shared.
Logging In and Out
We suggest all our members login to our platform each time they visit rather than storing their login details in their browser or device. This protects you against any unauthorised access to your account and in the event of theft of your computer or mobile device.
Secure Server Hosting
We use state of the art secure server hosting facilities located in multiple locations throughout Europe.
Encryption technology, anti-virus protection, firewalls and other appropriate security systems are in place to help us ensure our member information remains safe and secure.
Members Checks and Other Research
Alongside all these precautions we strongly recommend that all parents who use our site take responsibility for carrying out their own thorough checks on childcare providers before leaving them with their children. Please remember that Childcare.co.uk has over 500,000 childcare providers listed on our platform and we cannot verify DBS / PVG disclosures, references, qualifications, insurance, registration and other details for each of them.
Similarly, we remind childcare provider that they should carry out their own checks on parents and their families before inviting them into their home and always inform a friend of where you are going and how long you are likely to be if they have arranged an interview outside the home.
National Agency Investigations
We work closely with national agencies such as the Police, National Crime Agency, Ofsted, Social Services and Local Authorities and act quickly on any information they provide to us so we can assist them in any investigation.
The NSPCC have some useful advice about leaving children alone at home and tips for choosing the right babysitter on their website. They say, there's nothing quite like a parent’s intuition. If you’ve got any doubts at all about a possible babysitter then it’s always best to find someone else.
Report any Concerns
It's really important that if you have any concerns about anyone using our platform that you report them to us as quickly as possible.
In England you can report any concerns about an Ofsted registered childcare provider or school to Ofsted or by calling 0300 123 1231.
In Wales you can report any concerns about a registered childcare provider to Care Inspectorate Wales or by calling 0300 7900 126.
In Scotland you can report any concerns about a registered childcare provider to the Care Inspectorate or by calling 0345 600 9527.
If you have any immediate concerns about your safety or the safety of a child or another person then you should call the Police using the emergency services number 999.
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