Relationships with Children


  1. General
  2. Physical Contact
  3. One to one Time Alone With Children
  4. Intimate Care
  5. Menstruation
  6. Enuresis and Encopresis

1. General

The home should provide a nurturing environment that is welcoming and supportive. It should be an environment that supports a child’s physical, mental and emotional health, in line with the approach set out in the home’s Statement of Purpose. The quality of the relationship, within any social care setting has always been and always will be a key factor in determining the outcome of any intervention. The Children Act 1998 and the Children’s Homes Regulations including the Quality Standards (2015) emphasise the need to develop safe, positive and empowering relationships with children and young people cared for in residential child care environments.

Suitable arrangements should be in place in all homes for matters relating to physical contact, intimate care, menstruation, enuresis, encopresis and other aspects of children's personal care. These arrangements should take into account the child’s gender, religion, ethnicity, cultural and linguistic background, sexual identity, mental health, any disability, their assessed needs, previous experiences and any relevant plans e.g. Placement Plan and Care Plan. Staff working in our residential homes should seek to develop positive relationships with children and young people; in order to help achieve the appropriate balance between the care and control.

In day to day decision making, staff should demonstrate an appropriate balance between:

  • Each young person’s wishes and preferences;
  • The needs of individual young people;
  • The needs of the resident group;
  • The protection of others (including the public) from harm.

All young people within the home should be looked after without favouritism or antipathy.

2. Physical Contact

Staff must provide a level of care, including physical contact, which is designed to demonstrate warmth, respect, and positive regard for children.

Young people should enjoy positive and effective relationships with staff. These should be based on honesty and respect. Staff should communicate and negotiate clear, safe personal and professional boundaries with young people, in which individual and group needs are taken account of.

All staff should be able to set and maintain safe, consistent and understandable boundaries for young people in relation to all aspects of their lives and in particular in relation to acceptable behaviour.

What constitutes acceptable behaviour should be understood and negotiated within staff supervision and team meetings. Staff should help young people develop acceptable behaviour through communication, negotiation and consistency of approach.

All staff will receive training on positive approaches to care and control issues.

Physical contact should be given in a manner that is safe, protective and avoids the arousal of sexual expectations or feelings or which in any way reinforces sexual stereotypes.

Whilst staff are actively encouraged to play with children, it is not acceptable to play fight or participate in overtly physical games or tests of strength with the children.

3. One to One Time Alone With Children

Also see Lone Working Procedure

Where a staff members daily work brings them into a one to one situation they should inform other staff why this is necessary and where this will be taking place.

Where one to one work is delivered as part of a specialist service or direct work programme this should be identified in the Placement Plan.

Managers will, where it is deemed necessary, ensure a risk assessment is carried out for the delivery of any piece of work that is consistent with the Placement Plan.

Staff should always try to keep doors open unless this constitutes a breach of privacy for the child. In these instances it may be necessary to undertake a risk assessment of the situation.

No volunteer working in the home should ever be in a one to one situation with a child.

If an accident happens whilst in this situation as with any other situation make sure an accident report form is filled in and signed by all parties

If anything 'unusual' happens fill in an incident report form and make sure a witness signs it.

Giving first aid or personal care (where deemed necessary on the Placement Plan), should be recorded on the relevant format.

If any member of staff is uneasy about the behaviour of others who are putting himself or herself or the child at risk they must inform the manager of the home.

Where a member of staff feels that the unease is centred on the registered manager they must report this to a manager outside of the line management of the home, or to the child's social worker.

Any allegations, suspicions and/or disclosures of abuse should be reported as per Referring Safeguarding Concerns Procedure.

4. Intimate Care

Children must be supported and encouraged to undertake bathing, showers and other intimate care of themselves without relying on staff.

If a child need helps with intimate care, arrangements must emphasise the child’s dignity. Where necessary staff will be provided with specialist training and support.

5. Menstruation

Young women should be supported and encouraged to keep their own supply of sanitary protection without having to request it from staff.

There should also be adequate provision for the private disposal of used sanitary protection.

6. Enuresis and Encopresis

If it is known or suspected that a child is likely to experience enuresis (bed wetting), encopresis (smearing) or may be prone to smearing it should be discussed openly, with the child if possible, and strategies adopted for managing it. These strategies should be outlined in the child's Placement Plan.

It may be appropriate to consult a Continence Nurse or other specialist, who will provide advice on the most appropriate strategy to adopt. In the absence of such advice, the following should be adopted:

  1. Talk to the child in private, openly but sympathetically;
  2. Do not treat it as the fault of the child, or apply any form of sanction;
  3. Do not require the child to clear up; arrange for the child to be cleaned and remove then wash any soiled bedding and clothes;
  4. Keep a record, either on a dedicated form or in the child's Daily Record;
  5. Consider making arrangements for the child to have any supper in good time before retiring, and arranging for the child to use the toilet before retiring; also consider arranging for the child to be woken to use the toilet during the night;
  6. Consider using mattresses or bedding that can withstand being soiled or wet.