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A parent came in today and complained about a member of my team. The parent said that when she collected her child s/he was sat on the staff members knee and that this made her feel very uncomfortable, she added that she had never felt like this before and although she wasnt making any suggestion of inappropriate behaviour by the staff member she needed to air her view.

Obviously i had to inform the member of staff who was devastated and explained that the child had clambered upon her knee which she didnt see as a problem. Later in the day the member of staff came to me and said the comments has knocked her confidence with this child and that she felt vunrable and open to allegations of inappropriate behaviour she added that she didnt want to be left alone with this child again. We are a small nursery and childnumbers per room are tiny which means most staff work on their own with the children, i have arranged for a second member of staff to support her for the time being, but im not sure what to do in the long term.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated as i have never experienced any problem like this before and dont know what further action to take. x jojom x

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oh gosh how difficult, i dont really know what to say except reasure both parent and staff member that all is ok...it does make our lives as practitioners so awkard when we cannot even cuddle children anymore, but as i say to my staff memvbers as long as all the policies and procedures are in place then all you can do is support them. :D

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Blimely, guilty as charged m'lud. :o How many times a day does a child get onto your lap, run at your legs, squash onto a chair with you? I'd write a letter to the parent explaining the policies and procedures you have in place and invite her to come and see the nursery in action. Obviously she might think you are just putting on a show for her but chances are she will be a little more understanding of how you work and what the children require. I cant quote it but there's a bit in the FS document about making relationships with other adults isnt there? Log the complaint and everything that happened too. Your poor staff member must be feeling awful and will need reasurance too. I agree with Hali, if we cant cuddle children anymore then the worlds going mad. xD:)

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the child in question is full time and attends nusrery for an average of 9 1/2 houes a day and it seems so harsh that an innocent cuddle is not acceptable i fully understand how this staff member must be feeling and am offering her as much support as i can. She has been at our nursery from the start and trust in her 100 % i feel bad for how she must be feeling and also responsable for the nurseries structure which puts staff in a vunrable position of spending large parts of the day alone with the children and open to complaints like this because they dont have another person with them to vouch for them.

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Situations like this are always difficult, but on rereading your post it seems to me the issue is more about the feelings of the parent than the conduct of the member of staff. The staff member concerned should probably write down exactly what happened whilst it is still fresh in their memory and sign it and date it, but tell them to keep it somewhere safe so that if anything further comes of this then they can refer to that document.

However I suspect this is more about a parent who feels guilty/uncomfortable that their child is close to a member of staff. Perhaps you could talk to them further about what it was in particular that made them upset and whether they are generally happy with leaving their child with you. Many parents are actually unhappy that for whatever reason they have to leave thier child and perhaps this is the problem.

However you have to be 100% sure that nothing untoward was happening and it seems you are. Therefore you must support your staff member 100% because if a trusted and valued member of staff doesn't feel comfortable doing their job the provision for the children will suffer.

 

You also need to keep a written record of every conversation you have with this parent. Iwould recommend that all staff make a brief note when they have anything other than run of the mill conversations with parents. That way if an unfortunate dispute occurs you have evidence of what support, advice and information the setting has given over time.

I'm sure this is a case of a parent feeling insecure, but it's as well to record things accurately whilst they are fresh in the mind, just in case.

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'However I suspect this is more about a parent who feels guilty/uncomfortable that their child is close to a member of staff.'

 

I too was wondering if this was the case.

 

We have one child who always brings in pictures etc for a particular member of staff. Mum used to come in and say shes always talking about ....... and when the child goes home she has to come back in and give this staff member another cuddle before she will get in the car.

I think her mum found this hard to begin with, and sometimes felt second best.

 

Although it has worked out for the best in the long run, mum and dad split up and this really affected the child, she didn't want to be left at pre-school, but because of her close bond with this staff member mum would always say...'lets go and find........'

 

hope it all works out for you, as if we don't have enough to worry about

 

Jo

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"A parent came in today and complained about a member of my team. The parent said that when she collected her child s/he was sat on the staff members knee and that this made her feel very uncomfortable, she added that she had never felt like this before and although she wasnt making any suggestion of inappropriate behaviour by the staff member she needed to air her view"

 

The parent said she wasn't making any suggestion of innapropriate behaviour, but by 'airing her view' she is maybe asking for a listening ear and support/ guidance in why she felt uncomfortable, a feeling she hadn't felt before.

 

Positively this parent felt able to approach and talk to you about her feelings, this shows a good relationship with setting and parent.

You obviously know the situation best and are best at reading between the lines but I would suggest that a way to acknowledge her comments is to have a meeting between yourself, parent and staff member, thank her for being so honest with you and for bringing her thoughts to you ( and not just chatting out of context to other parents). Ask her how does she feel now about the situation, in hindsight, so to speak. Ask if she has thought about what her feelings actually meant and how can you and your staff support her in dealing with them and/or ways that you can offer her reasurance.

 

I would look at your "safety against allegation" policies on having staff alone with children, and maybe ways to minimise staff being alone with children.

I was told by my EYAT that staff should not be on their own with children, I argued that we need to balance the need of the children ( in my case, seperating different age groups into seperate rooms for short periods of time) the trust and value of a staff members professionalism and the risk of having accusations made against staff. My policy states that no member of staff will be alone with a child in a room for more than a few minutes ( ie: nappy changing/toilet support acceptable) However, a member of staff, on their own can carry out an activity with a group of children as long as ratio's are maintained and the door is left open. ( this is in our setting, two adjoining rooms)

 

Noting everything down is also important, times, comments, etc. however if you are noting comments from parents they should be shown these as sign them as correct.

 

This is a difficult situation, just try to be matter of fact, not bring in 'emotional, subjective assumptions' . Keep any discussions on a professional footing about the childs needs, the parents needs and the deployment needs of the setting.

 

Good luck. let us know how things go.

 

Peggy

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We have a child currently in the unit who all the staff feel vulnerable being alone with to this end we consulted with the child protection team of the LA and they produced a risk assessment document to provide some security for staff.

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Code_of_Conduct_Phys._Contact.docI'm sure I have posted this before but I hope its helpful to this discussion.

Some years ago our Nursery Staff highlighted the need to protect ourselves from allegations and accordingly drew up the attached Code of Conduct for Physical Contact. In its draft form it was circulated to all parents/carers for their comments. Once we had their replies (all positive) we then took it to committee and it was formally adopted as part of our policies and procedures. All new parents receive a copy of it and it is currently being reviewed/amended as part of our regular review procedures.

I took it along to an LEA child protection course and it is now distributed routinely to this training as an example of good practice.

Please feel free to use this and adapt it for your setting.

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well how do think childminders go on?the day I have to give up cuddling child or having to turn a child away from climbing on my knee is the day i give up!!!my heart goes out to your member of staff,what on earth could of made the parent seen to make her feel uncomfortable with it?Apart from all the personal issues already said in previous posts ofcourse.I do hope you sort it out,what a shame :o

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Thanks everyone for your advice will keep you posted. The problem does lie with the parent and i have to say her comments in the initial meeting were disturbing not in a way that it created doubt as to the staffs intregrety and intentions. The parent had said she was not feeling jealous or proud or anything like that and her uncomfortable feeling was nothing she could put her finger on but that it had played on her mind all evening. I am glad that the parent felt confident enough to air her views and will endever to support both the parent and the staff member through this.

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It may be a good idea to discuss the Birth to Three Framework with all parents

as this makes many references to emotional security

 

maybe youre right it could be about the parents own feelings - maybe of guilt for leaving their child

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Think LJW's code of conduct is sensible and balanced. Our job involves a fair bit of physical contact, luckily in our setting we are hardly ever left alone and all doors are always open. Does sound like the parent has the problem but with careful handling and discussion as suggested by everyone should help.

 

I am quite tactile person and it would be very sad if children do not learn the comfort of a cuddle and the touch of a hand on an arm to show support.

 

I remember one little boy last year would occasionally come up and plant a kiss on my cheek, and other staff, I did my best not to react in any way, either to repulse or encourage the kiss. They did stop after a while. This was in full view of everyone.

 

I should add that our parents last year wanted us to comfort their children, when something came up in discussion at one committee meeting.

Let us know how you get on.

 

Good luck

Edited by Deb
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had a meeting with the parent and staff today and it went ok although the parent still has issues with this member of staff which at present i am struggling to meet but i do think with time that we will be able to work through them, i have places a long term student who has been with us for some time in the room to help my staff member feel less vunerable than she felt on her own and this is the best solution that i have been able to reach im afraid

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