At this festive time of year Father Christmas can be a visitor at many different venues and, in addition to finding out if he prefers mince pies or cookies, it’s important to ensure the right person is found for this very important job.
Historically, organisations have often erred on the side of caution and applied for a basic DBS check for seasonal Father Christmas workers. However, the guidelines confirm this is not necessary and applications of this sort could even be rejected. Basic DBS checks are only required where the applicant passes the ‘frequency and intensity test’ when working with children, which translates as them seeing the same child four or more times in a month or having a minimum of one stay overnight with a child in a month.
Picking your Santa
Whilst the basic DBS check is not required for this position, it is still important to take some simple, common sense precautions and choose your Santa carefully, as explained on the school fundraising website PTA+. If possible, try and use a Father Christmas who has already been DBS checked in their normal role. Anybody taking on this role, in a voluntary capacity or otherwise, should be interviewed, even if only informally. This should allow you to judge if they’re the right person for the role. References should be obtained and the Father Christmas candidate should be provided with a copy of the safeguarding and child protection policy.
Keeping children safe
It is a sensible idea to ensure children are accompanied by their parents or carers at all times, thereby giving them responsibility for supervising the interaction. In addition to the parent or carer remaining with their child, it is also a good idea to have someone else present, who ideally has also had a basic DBS check in their usual role. Children visiting Santa should no longer be invited to sit on his knee, however, if a child would like to of their own volition, this can be permitted if the parent or carer agree and remain present.
Most of these measures are just a simple case of common sense but it is important to take them into account and make sensible choices. At this fun and festive time we definitely want the perfect person to don the big red suit – next you just have to find a Rudolph!