Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): child contact services guidance

Published: 5 Mar 2021
Last updated: 19 Jul 2021 - see all updates

Guidance to help child contact centres safely re-open their premises and resume face-to-face services during the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): child contact services guidance
Infection prevention and control

Infection prevention and control

There are a range of key practices that providers should use in relation to hygiene and the prevention and control of the spread of infection. However, maintaining 1 metre physical distance, respiratory hygiene and regular hand hygiene remain the cornerstone of infection prevention.

Good hygiene principles for non-healthcare settings: general principles

Hand hygiene

  • COVID-19 is spread when respiratory secretions from an infected person enters the mouth, nose or eyes of another. One way in which this can happen is by touching your eyes, nose or mouth with contaminated hands. It is therefore important to avoid touching the face with unwashed hands
  • perform hand hygiene regularly and especially before and after eating
  • promote good hand hygiene for all staff/volunteers/visitors/service users
  • ensure there are sufficient hand washing facilities and provision of hand sanitiser at key areas such as entry and exit points

Coughs and sneezes

  • catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue and dispose of any tissues into a bin and wash hands immediately

  • if an individual does not have tissues to hand, they should catch coughs and sneezes in the crook of their elbow


  • ensure regular detergent cleaning schedules and procedures are in place using a product which is active against bacteria and viruses
  • ensure regular (at least twice daily) cleaning of commonly touched objects and surfaces (e.g. telephones, keyboards, door handles, desks, counter tops etc)

Face coverings

Face coverings are an important part of stopping the spread of coronavirus. The face coverings guidance provides information for the general public and employers about the use of face coverings.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE protects the user against health or safety risks at work. (It can include items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses). Providers should continue to use any PPE required as per local policies (business as usual) and there are no requirements for additional PPE to be worn.

Hand and respiratory hygiene

All staff, volunteers, users and visitors should maintain good hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene. Providers should make arrangements for hand and respiratory hygiene in the centre. Where possible, disposable paper towels or kitchen roll, with appropriate and frequent waste disposal, should be used. Where it is age appropriate, providers can also use hand dryers.

There are a range of resources available from the NHS to encourage children with handwashing.

Hand sanitiser is not recommended for children when soap and water is available. Hand sanitiser should not be used by children under 12 months.

Providers must ensure that handwashing facilities are accessible for children.  Hand sanitiser should be available in locations around the premises and available to parents, staff, volunteers and visitors at entry/exit points, reception desks, communal areas and workstations. Providers should consider the following hand hygiene measures for staff, visitors and service users:

  • frequent washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • hand sanitiser can be used as an alternative when hands are not visibly soiled
  • washing hands on arrival at the contact centre, after toileting, and when moving between different areas (e.g. between different rooms or between inside and outside)
  • COVID-19 is predominantly transmitted via the eyes, nose and mouth. Therefore, people should be discouraged from touching their face or covering without washing their hands
  • parents should encourage children, where age appropriate, not to touch their face, using distraction methods and keeping children busy, rather than making this an issue
  • use a tissue or elbow to cough or sneeze.  Provide families with tissue and a method of disposing of these appropriately (closed waste bin with liner)
  • parents should where possible supervise children washing their hands and provide assistance if required
  • always dry hands thoroughly
  • clear signage should be available for those using the contact centre (including staff and volunteers).  This is available via the National Infection Prevention and Control Manual
  • encourage users and visitors to use hand sanitiser or handwashing facilities as they enter and exit the premises
  • implement cleaning procedures for any goods and merchandise entering the premises, including containers
  • provide a nearby supply of hand sanitiser for employees or volunteers to use when handling deliveries when handwashing is not practical
  • ensure staff and volunteers have access to handwashing facilities and are able to regularly wash their hands
  • if staff and volunteers have to use touch-based security devices such as keypads to enter the business through controlled areas, either seek alternatives or implement cleaning arrangements
  • limit or restrict the use of high-touch items and equipment such as, for example, printers or whiteboards

Cleaning practices

Key points for providers are:

  • if premises have been closed for many weeks or if parts of the building have been out of use for a long period, the provider must undertake appropriate and thorough cleaning of the premises prior to reopening
  • consideration should be given to the cleaning strategy to be adopted in the child contact centre 
  • all cleaning should be carried out in accordance with COVID-19 – guidance for non-healthcare settings and Infection Prevention and Control in Childcare Settings guidance. This may mean enhancement of the cleaning regime normally used in child contact centres
  • there should be routine cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched areas and hard surfaces. This should include equipment staff use (e.g. telephones, keyboards, door handles, and tables) toilets, kitchen areas and baby change facilities
  • centres should ensure regular (at least twice daily) cleaning of commonly touched objects and surfaces (e.g. desks, handles, dining tables, etc.)
  • if children have access to objects such as toys, books, outdoor play equipment, it is recommended that objects used are easy to clean.  Users should wash their hands before and after use
  • toys and equipment that children access should be cleaned by staff or volunteers or cleaners between contact sessions and at the end of the day or in the morning before the contact session begins. Use standard detergent and disinfectant that are active against viruses and bacteria
  • providers should ensure that robust cleaning schedules are in place for decontamination of toys
  • providers should consider whether to allow families to bring toys from home to the child contact centre. Some children may require a transitional object or toy as a comforter, and consideration should be given as to how to safely manage this to ensure children are supported to feel reassured and comforted
  • families will require comfortable areas to spend time and play. However, any soft furnishings such as throws should be removed
  • if providers permit families to use kitchen areas at the child contact centre to make hot drinks or snacks, families should bring their own cups/cutlery
  • surfaces in kitchen areas should be wiped down and disinfected in between each use
  • providers should consider whether to permit food and drink to be consumed at the centre, unless essential for medical reasons.  Families should be encouraged not to share food or drink with each other
  • set clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets to ensure they are kept clean
  • where baby changing facilities are provided, set clear use and cleaning guidance to ensure they are kept clean and clear of personal items and that physical distancing is achieved
  • areas used by families, any staff rooms and any kitchen equipment should be cleaned frequently between uses. A cleaning schedule should be designed with training to implement the schedule
  • cleaning of the staff areas should be considered as part of the overall cleaning strategy. Staff should use their own cup and cutlery and ensure these are cleaned straight after use
  • adequate collection and disposal arrangements should be made available for any additional waste created by enhanced cleaning practices
  • the premises should be kept clear and all waste should be removed. All personal belongings (e.g. water bottles, mugs, stationery, etc) must be removed at the end of a child contact centre session
  • guidance on environmental decontamination (cleaning and disinfection), where it becomes apparent that a person using or working at the child contact centre has a possible COVID-19 infection, can be found in the HPS COVID-19: guidance for non-healthcare settings


Where premises have been closed for several weeks/months, water can stagnate due to lack of using which increases the risk of legionella.  Employers may need to visit their legionella risk assessment to manage any associated risks. See the HSE website for further information.


Guidance on ventilation in non-domestic or commercial settings should be followed. Advice is also available from the HSE on air conditioning and ventilation. Good ventilation can help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus, so providers should focus on improving general ventilation, preferably through fresh air or mechanical systems.

The opening of doors and windows, where it is safe to do so, should be encouraged to increase natural ventilation and also to reduce contact with door handles. This should not include fire doors.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The use of PPE by staff within a child contact centre setting should be informed by the use of risk assessments at a local level, taking account of the specific conditions at each individual contact centre, and based on a clear assessment of risk and need.

HPS non-healthcare settings guidance makes clear that in any setting staff should continue to use PPE in line with current health and safety policies and risk assessments, and staff should only wear PPE when it is appropriate to the task they are undertaking. 

Providers must also ensure that all applicable legislation is complied with.

When considering PPE providers should also refer to the HSE guidance on the use of PPE during coronavirus. Whilst generally there are no additional PPE measures required for non-healthcare settings if, following a risk assessment, the need for PPE has been identified, it should be readily available and staff should be trained on its use as appropriate, following HSE guidelines on PPE at work.

Test and Protect

Test and Protect, Scotland’s approach to implementing the 'test, trace, isolate, support' strategy is a public health measure designed to break chains of transmission of COVID-19 in the community.

Staff, visitors or users who develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19 must follow the Test and Protect guidance.  Providers should also follow the Test and Protect advice for employers.

Providers can also refer to the NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect guidance for further advice, including on testing, contact tracing and self-isolating.

Providers should:

  • develop a clear procedure for what to do should a user, visitor or staff member display symptoms of COVID-19 when in the contact centre, adhering to HPS Covid-19 guidance for non-healthcare settings
  • ensure that if any person using the child contact centre develops symptoms of COVID-19, then face-to-face services must cease. Providers should consider alternative methods to maintain contact where appropriate
  • plan as much as possible to minimise the operational impact of individual staff or volunteers being required to self-isolate and may wish to keep a record of absences of staff and volunteers where this is due to suspected or confirmed COVID-19
  • keep a temporary record of contact details for a period of 21 days for any users or visitors (e.g. child welfare reporters, delivery persons or contractors) to the centre where they do not already have up to date contact details for them. This is to support contact tracing as part of NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect system, in the event of an outbreak linked to a particular child contact centre

There is guidance on supporting Test and Protect by collecting data on users and visitors . This guidance includes what information to collect, how to collect that information and how to store the data securely. The guidance also contains a template Privacy Notice that should be made available to all users and visitors of the centre. This ensures that those providing their details are informed as to what will happen to their data.

Providers should bear in mind the risks involved in processing children’s data and so it must be managed carefully. Where possible, it may be sensible to record the contact details of adults accompanying the child rather than the child’s. The Information Commissioner’s Office has published further information on processing children's data.

There are information governance arrangements in place if data is shared with NHS Scotland on the basis of individuals being identified as at risk of being close contacts by the Test and Protect service. There is no circumstance in which a child contact centre should use this collected data to directly contact users, volunteers or staff, even in the event of a known outbreak within the premises.


Any suggestions for improvements to this guidance should be sent to:

First published: 5 Mar 2021 Last updated: 19 Jul 2021 -