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The Children Act 1989 states the legal definition of a child is “a person under the age of 18″.

The vast majority of students placed by HFS London are aged over 18. However, we are seeing increased demand from overseas students aged under 18 requesting homestay accommodation.

Whilst there is currently no directive relating specifically to homestay accommodation for international students aged under 18, legal opinion is that there are a number of statutory and other provisions relating to Child Safeguarding that still apply, just as they would apply to other sectors and to other organisations in general.

Obligations, although not based in statute also affect homestay providers like HFS London as a result of common law, e.g. as a result of the contracts between student or parent and the homestay provider, or under the law of negligence. Relevant legislation includes:

The Education Act (2002) Section 175

The Children Act (1989 and amendments)

The Children Act 2004

Working Together to Safeguard Children 2006

Safeguarding of the Vulnerable Adult Guidance 2006

Safeguarding of Vulnerable Adult Schemes

Aimsafer: A Framework for Safeguarding Children & Young People in Higher Education Institutions

Due to the above, and as part of our ongoing registration with the British Council, HFS London has implemented detailed and rigorous control measures to safeguard children and vulnerable adults placed in homestay accommodation organised by HFS London.

We work in partnership with Child Safe for all aspects of Safeguarding and Child Protection policy. An HFS London company director is nominated ‘Strategic Lead’ for Safeguarding and is responsible for overall oversight of these policies. Our appointed Child Protection Officers are trained to ‘Child Safe’ Advanced Levels (or higher). As part of their induction, all HFS London staff are internally trained on the importance of Child Safeguarding.

Please note that new homestay hosts wishing to host students aged under 18 are subject to criminal history (Enhanced DBS or current CRB) checks before junior students are placed with them. These new hosts will also be required to:

  • Sign a safeguarding declaration on behalf of themselves and any other adult residents in the home attesting to their (a) suitability to have responsibility for, or substantial access to, children and (b) understanding of the additional responsibilities involved in hosting students aged under 18.
  • Provide references that attest to their suitability to have responsibility for, or substantial access to, persons under 18.
  • Provide photo identification.
  • Confirm that they have read and understood HFS London’s Child Safeguarding Policy and other Safeguarding documentation.

HFS London employees are also subject to our safer recruitment policies which may also include DBS checks where the role applied for involves responsibility for or substantial access to under 18s.

Below is our Child Protection Statement. Our full Child Protection Policy is provided to all hosts who wish to host juniors on successful completion of the registration process. It contains detailed information for registered hosts on (i) Contacting our designated Child Protection Officers (ii) Types & signs of abuse (iii) Procedures when abuse is suspected or a complaint is made (iv) Procedures for making a referral to the Local Authority Designated Officer.

Comprehensive information on Child Safeguarding and on what to do should a student have a concern is also provided to students who book with us directly. For more information please contact us.

Safeguarding & Child Protection Policy Statement

HFS London Limited is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people. We expect all staff and homestay hosts to share this commitment.

Every student should feel safe and protected from any form of abuse which, in this statement, means any kind of neglect, non-accidental physical injury, sexual exploitation or emotional illtreatment.

HFS London will take all reasonable measures to:

  • Ensure a safe environment for students in order to safeguard their interests.
  • Treat all students with care and respect according to their needs and without discrimination of any kind.
  • Protect each student from any form of abuse, whether from an adult or another student.
  • Be alert to the medical needs of students with medical conditions.
  • Strike a proper balance between protecting students and respecting the rights and needs of host family members. However, where there is conflict between these requirements the student’s welfare will come first.
  • Host families have a right to respect and will be consulted and involved in matters which concern their family, subject to duties of confidentiality where these apply.
  • Provide registered homestay hosts with copies of our Child Protection Policy.
  • Provide staff members with child protection training, which will include clarification of responsibilities. Registered Homestay hosts will also be briefed on child protection procedures.
  • Work closely with all agencies and bodies concerned with the protection and welfare of children and any school or educational establishment attended by the student to ensure that all allegations of abuse are dealt with justly and promptly.
  • Follow the local inter-agency procedures of the appropriate Safeguarding Children Board.
  • Be alert to signs of abuse within HFS London, the homestay environment or within the school or college attended by the student.
  • Deal appropriately with every suspicion or complaint of abuse.
  • Ensure that, so far as possible, actions taken to protect a student, do not in themselves cause the student unnecessary distress. Such actions may include consultation with the police, which may result in criminal proceedings.
  • Design, and operate procedures which, so far as possible, ensure that staff / homestay hosts who are innocent are not prejudiced by false allegations.
  • Ensure that, where HFS London ceases to use the services of any person because that person was considered unsuitable to work with children, a prompt and detailed report is made to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) or other relevant body as determined by future legislation.
  • Support students who have been abused in accordance with his / her agreed child protection plan.
  • Design and operate procedures which promote this Statement and HFS London’s Child Protection policy.