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
Risk assessment and communication

Risk assessment and communication

Risk assessment

Child contact centre providers must ensure that risk assessments take place at their child contact centres. These are expected to consider all risks identified in respect of COVID-19 and must take account of the relevant guidance from Health Protection Scotland (HPS).

The assessment should directly address risks associated with COVID-19 so that appropriate measures can be put in place to control those risks for everyone. Providers should consider and set out the mitigations they will introduce in their risk assessment. Mitigations could include, for example, changing the layout in order to maintain physical distancing and improving ventilation.

Health and safety law requires all employers to assess the risk of returning to work while the coronavirus outbreak is ongoing and to put steps in place to manage that risk. The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE)  guide to making your workplace COVID-secure during the coronavirus pandemic can help you, including with a Risk Assessment template.   (Please see, in particular, working safely during the pandemic).

Employers must protect people from harm. This includes taking reasonable steps to protect your workers and others from coronavirus. A COVID-19 risk assessment helps manage risk and protect people.

Employers must:

  • identify what work activity or situations might cause transmission of the virus
  • think about who could be at risk
  • decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed
  • act to remove the activity or situation, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk

If you have fewer than five employees, you don’t have to write anything down, but it might help if you do so. Risk is something that must be assessed in all working environments.

Employers have a duty to consult employees on health and safety. Consultation should occur, where relevant, with full and part-time staff, contractors and facilities and cleaning staff. This should be done in advance of re-opening. Risk assessments should be communicated to parents and all staff and volunteers.

The HSE has also provided useful information on talking with your workers about preventing coronavirus.

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 a health and safety check of the building concerned prior to reopening.

Advice for those at highest risk

People on the shielding list should follow the general advice for their local protection level.  However, there is also extra advice for those at higher risk from coronavirus and further information on mygov.scot. 

Children or adults attending the child contact centre who are on the shielding list should consider the current shielding guidance and advice from their healthcare provider.

Where attendance at the contact centre is not possible, alternative methods of contact service provision should be considered where appropriate.  This could, for example, include video or “letter-box” contact or contact by telephone.

Communication

Communication with all staff, volunteers, parents and users on reopening the child contact centre should be carefully considered when implementing this guidance, to ensure that all those concerned understand the changes that are required and are confident about the revised arrangements across all users.

National information for parents is available from Parent Club.

Child contact centres need to communicate any new arrangements to users in advance of users attending, particularly where there are new routines and procedures that children and families will need to understand and follow. 

Additional arrangements for sharing information between staff and families should be agreed to ensure that clear lines of communication are available where face-to-face communication is being reduced. For example, video messaging, phone calls or text messages, or email can be used. It is important that when providers change communication methods that they take account of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and update their existing privacy notices where necessary.

When face-to-face communication is preferred and suitable, the child contact centre provider must ensure that physical distancing guidance is adhered to.

Use signage, tannoy announcements and any other relevant communication tools to remind staff and volunteers to maintain hygiene standards: e.g. hand washing and the etiquette for coughing, sneezing, etc


Contact

Any suggestions for improvements to this guidance should be sent to: family.law@gov.scot

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