Both historical and contemporary residential care for children have been found to present risks to their safety and security. Views about the characteristics of workers that helped them to feel safe in the placement were obtained from 27 children and young people who were placed in residential care in Australia. Competent and trustworthy staff were considered essential. These workers were characterised as caring, proactive, tenacious in building relationships, and available. Importantly, they listened and ensured young people had a voice. The study affirms the central role of the worker-client alliance in ensuring residential care is a positive and safe experience for children and young people, and identifies structural factors that children and young people believe are barriers to them feeling safe.