Things to consider
There are things you need to consider before you start working alone with children.
Letting other people know
Before the session make sure the child’s parent or carer knows where you will be and at what time. If you are not able to let them know in advance, inform them as soon as possible afterwards.
It’s also a good idea to let another appropriate adult know you will be alone with a child or children, preferably somebody with safeguarding responsibility. This could be the nominated child protection lead in the venue you’re using.
Consent and agreements
Before working alone with a child or young person, it’s a good idea to arrange a meeting with them and their parent or carer.
- Agree what activities you will do and what will happen during sessions.
- Give parents or carers and the child a copy of your safeguarding policy.
- Let the child and parent or carer know what they can do if they have any concerns about the sessions.
- Explain who you will share information with and when you may not be able to keep information confidential.
- Talk about any support the child or young person may need from their parent or carer.
Consider if it’s appropriate to offer for a child’s parent or carer or another trusted adult to be present. You could invite parents and carers to wait in a separate room during the session. If the child is happy for you to work alone, you will need to get consent from parents or carers and the child themselves.
It’s best practice to get written as well as verbal consent before working alone with a child or young person. You could also use a consent form to gather important information like emergency contact details and any medical conditions or disabilities you should be aware of.
> View our example consent forms
You must make sure children and young people are properly supervised at all times. Think about what you will do if you need extra support, for example if a child is ill, injured or needs to go to the bathroom.
Make sure everyone working with or around children has been through the appropriate checks.
> Look at our recommended adult to child ratios
Always behave appropriately when you are around children and young people. This will help make sure everyone feels comfortable and protected.
- Set appropriate boundaries and do not be overly familiar with children and young people.
- Never give children your personal contact details. If you need to arrange meeting times, do this via the child’s parents or carers.
- Never make inappropriate jokes or comments to or around children.
- Don’t add, follow or interact with children or young people on your personal social media account.
- Any physical contact must be appropriate, justifiable, approached sensitively and agreed to by the child.
Consider implementing behaviour codes setting out how you will behave and how you expect the children you work with to behave. You can share these with children, parents and carers before you start working with the child.
> See example behaviour codes
You should keep a record of any time spent working with children.
- the date, time and place
- the reason for the contact
- a summary of the activity or discussion.
It is important that you have the contact details for children and young people’s parents or carers and that they have yours in case of emergency.
You should also make sure that children and young people know what to do and who to contact in an emergency. There should always be a working phone accessible to both you and children and young people.
Lone working unexpectedly
It is best practice for there to be more than one adult present when working or volunteering with children and young people. There may be some situations where you are working alone with children and young people unexpectedly. If this happens, there are things you can do to keep this as safe as possible.
- Make sure you are somewhere with the child where other people can see and hear you.
- Tell another adult that you are alone with a child or children.
- Make a record as soon as possible afterwards of why you were alone with a child or children and what happened.
- Tell your manager or supervisor and your nominated child protection lead.