Spending One to One Time with Children


  1. Individual Relationships
  2. Staff Skills
  3. Integration
  4. Precautions in One to One Relationships
  5. Risk Assessments

1. Individual Relationships

This network of reliable and affectionate relationships includes a variety of one-one relationships. Because of their early experiences, children who come to Childhood First facilities have significant difficulties in making and managing close relationships. This difficulty will be part of the reason that they have been referred for group care. Through proper use of the group children become better able to manage one-one and group relations. The staff ratios at Childhood First facilities mean that all children are provided with frequent one to one time with staff.

Each child has their own Key/Linkworker and this is one of the relationships within which they can explore their difficulties in relating one to one. They may well choose other staff to spend significant amounts of time with and will certainly go through phases where they reject and attack their key/linkworker or other significant figures. In any case these relationships - particularly with key/link workers - can be very intense and often uncomfortable as the children often use this relationship to work out intense feelings including those of love and hate. It must be remembered that this is precisely the purpose of the key/linkworker relationship and can only form an effective part of treatment if staff share their experiences and feelings using all the opportunities for individual and group supervisions and consultations provided. In rare circumstances these feelings may be too over-whelming for a key/linkworker and senior staff will take appropriate action.

It is important for their development that the children who use Childhood First facilities have opportunities to spend one to one time alone with staff. It is also important that all children are not able to monopolise particular staff, and that children are helped to share and relate well together. Placement Plans may outline what each particular child needs. Children may replicate their own experiences of being isolated with a particular adult in a 'special' but dangerous relationship and staff must be alert to this possibility and take care not to be drawn too far in. The amount of time individual adults spend with a particular child will be a subject of discussion in groups and community meetings and will be a useful vehicle for children to work out their feelings of rivalry and competition. Staff must remember that they have a responsibility to the whole group as well as particular children.

2. Staff Skills

No member of staff should work in a one to one situation with a child until they have received relevant training or validated by the Registered Manager as having sufficient prior training and experience.

All staff need to be adept both at looking after groups - so that others may spend one-one time - and at spending one toone time with children, and at switching between the two. Team and shift leaders will facilitate staff in knowing how their time is most usefully spent, but all staff must be aware of the group dynamic and be alert to how to meet all the children's needs - this must be a frequent topic of discussion. It must be understood that group time and group relations are a central part of the treatment and not merely a matter of resource or somehow second best.

3. Integration

Children have been referred for a group experience often because they are fragmented and different aspects of themselves are spilt off from each other and often projected into different people. It is a necessary part of the treatment and different staff are receptive to different aspects of the child. It is necessary for their development that these different aspects of their personalities are integrated together. Unless staff talk together about their feelings about being with the child, the child will have no hope of integration.

4. Precautions in One to One Relationships

All staff, but particularly new staff are vulnerable to children's misinterpretation and allegation and everyone must take care to protect each other. This means that staff and new staff in particular must not be left on their own, isolated in prolonged one to one contact with a child. Shift leaders, team leaders and senior staff must ensure they know where everybody is and take care to check regularly on new and vulnerable staff. All staff must be sensitive to allowing a different member of staff to gently join a conversation or take over an interaction where the more senior staff member judges it necessary. All staff must take very seriously any judgment of senior staff that they need to put more physical or emotional distance between themselves and the children or a particular child.

At each staff supervision meeting there should be an agenda item covering any issues related to one to one working.

5. Risk Assessments

Also see: Risk Taking and Assessments.

Controlling the risks associated with one to one working will include the relevant training, information, instruction and supervision.

The risk assessment will have identified the safe working measures, controls, training and supervision requirements to ensure the safety of staff and children.

All staff working with the child share responsibility for familiarising themselves with the contents of the risk assessment, any conditions attached, and any other relevant information contained on the child's file.

The Director/Registered Manager must ensure that arrangements are made to carry out any steps considered necessary to manage any risks presented to the staff.

Factors to consider:

  • The knowledge of a medical condition the staff member may have;
  • The time of day or night;
  • Methods of communication;
  • The location of the work and if travel is involved;
  • The risk of violence to staff, verbal and physical;
  • Are inexperienced staff at risk?
  • Are there any gender issues such as female staff or new and expectant mothers being especially at risk?
  • Has adequate training been received to ensure competency?

Where the risk assessment indicates that a member of staff is likely to be at risk in a given situation, the Director / Registered Manager will ensure that a contingency plan is in place should the situation occur, for example by the provision of additional support staff.

If the member of staff has any concerns about the safety of themselves, the child or others, the member of staff must draw this to the immediate attention of the Director / Registered Manager or a member of the senior team who will consider the need for an urgent review of the risk assessment. Any such concerns will be communicated as necessary to all members of the staff working with the child. For example during contact with parents, staff may feel threatened by the parent's behaviour. See: Contact with Parents and Sibling Procedure.

If the Director / Registered Manager has any reason to consider, having regard to any incidents, reports, or events that a child presents a risk to staff, or that an individual member of staff is particularly at risk from a child or is particularly weak working in a one to one situation, the manager must take immediate steps to review the deployment of staff. The Director / Registered Manager will consider if further training is needed.