COVID-19 resources

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Remote hearings in the family justice system: reflections and experiences. Online survey results (part of the follow-up consultation September 2020)

Nuffield Family Justice Observatory

Results of an online survey of views and experiences of remote hearings in the family court in England and Wales since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the introduction of social distancing measures. 1, 306 people (90% professionals and 10% parents or other relatives) responded to the survey, which was conducted between 10 and 30 September 2020. The survey forms part of a wider rapid consultation that incorporates information from other organisations, and the results of focus groups and interviews undertaken with parents. The graphs presented in this document are organised by: all respondents; professionals; parents and other relatives.

Last updated on hub: 28 October 2020

Remote justice – family court hearings during the pandemic

Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law

This case note discusses Re A (Children) (Remote Hearing: Care And Placement Orders) [2020] EWCA Civ 583 and other reported judgments involving decisions on remote hearings and those held partly in the courtroom and partly remotely, known as hybrid hearings. On 23 March 2020, the UK government announced a state-wide lockdown, restricting freedom of movement, as a response to the spread of the coronavirus and threat of COVID-19 overwhelming the National Health Service, closely followed on 25 March by the passing of the Coronavirus Act 2020. Consequently, hearings scheduled in court buildings across the country could no longer take place. However, a central principle of the Children Act 1989 is the avoidance of delay that is not in the child’s welfare. Building on the increasingly common use in family court hearings of some parties giving evidence by video link in certain circumstances, the possibility of an entire hearing being undertaken online had to be explored. A series of practice guidance documents on the use of remote and hybrid hearings was issued by the senior judiciary from 19 March onward. In Re A, the President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, set out explicit guidance to judges in England and Wales on decisions to be made about holding a hearing ‘remotely’, that is, through online participation instead of in the traditional court room. Re A was the first appeal in a case relating to the welfare of children to be heard by the Court of Appeal on the issue of remote hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last updated on hub: 11 September 2020

Remote mental health interventions for young people: a rapid review of the evidence

Youth Access

Summarises current evidence of the impact and implementation of remote interventions to support young people’s mental health. Remote interventions include any form of support that is not delivered in person (e.g. telephone or video calls, online chat messaging or forums, text messages or emails). The review focuses on remote support that is delivered by a counsellor, or other practitioner and does not cover app-based or computerised interventions. Very few robust evaluations of remote support were identified; however, those included in this review suggest it can lead to improvements in young people’s mental health and wellbeing. There were examples of how these interventions can allow services to work flexibly and adapt their ways of communication to fit the needs of the young person. However, the findings suggest that using remote interventions as a replacement for face-to-face support (as was necessary during the Covid-19 pandemic) is problematic. Remote interventions were typically described as ‘brief’ and practitioners often did not have time to identify action plans or goals. The report suggests that training around the strengths of remote support, and the experiences of young people may be helpful. This should also be included in undergraduate and entry level training for mental health practitioners.

Last updated on hub: 23 July 2020

Renewing neighbourhood democracy: creating powerful communities

Localis

This report looks at initiatives to increase the power of communities and strengthen neighbourhood-level democracy, to understand how initiatives to strengthen community power and control as a means of achieving a better functioning local democracy and political economy might work in practice. An area of particular interest is post-pandemic reform to local governance structures in England, embodied in the forthcoming Local Recovery and Devolution White Paper, and how these reforms can open up space for greater community power. Its methodology is a combination of qualitative research – case studies, interviews and surveys – and critical analysis of how community empowerment has been approached nationwide. At its core, this report seeks to understand the current state of community empowerment in the UK and what changes should be made to ensure that the state – both local and central – can best support all communities to prosper and thrive. In conclusion, the report prescribes some immediate policy approaches that could facilitate community empowerment and some more general principles to take forward in both national and local government. From the studies, some key principles for creating powerful communities can be drawn: a relational approach to governance; strong networking and communication systems; dedication to building capacity; work rooted in listening to communities; and a willingness to cede some power and control and a culture that is engaged and facilitative.

Last updated on hub: 18 November 2020

Report 01: findings from the first 1500 participants on parent/carer stress and child activity

Emerging Minds

This report is based upon the data from the first 1,500 parents and carers who have taken part in an online survey tracking the mental health of school-aged children and young people aged 4-16 years throughout the COVID-19 crisis. These participants completed the survey during a 6-day period, between Monday 30th March and Saturday 4th April – for most young people, this will have been the last week of the school term prior to the Easter holiday. The report focuses on the parent and carer stress and how children and young people are reported to spend their time. The report indicates that the top three stressors for parents and carers were work, their children’s wellbeing, and their family and friends (outside their household); early two third of parents and carers reported that they were not sufficiently meeting the needs of both work and their child; just over half the children and young people completed 2 or more hours of schoolwork per day; nearly three quarter of children and young people are keeping in contact with friends via video chat; and round three quarter of children and young people are getting more than 30 minutes of exercise per day.

Last updated on hub: 01 July 2020

Report 02: Covid-19 worries, parent/carer stress and support needs, by child special educational needs and parent/carer work status

Emerging Minds

This report provides cross-sectional data from the approximately 5,000 parents and carers who, between 30/03/20 and 29/04/20, have taken part in an online survey tracking the mental health of school-aged children and young people aged 4-16 years throughout the COVID-19 crisis. The report focuses on the following outcomes: parent and carer reported child worries related to COVID-19; parent and carer sources of stress; support and disruptions; parent and carer need for support; and parent and carer preference for the medium of delivery of support. The report reveals that nearly half the parents/carers thought that their child was concerned about family and friends catching the virus; around a third of parents/carers reported that their child was worried about missing school; work is the most frequent source of stress for parents, followed by their child’s emotional wellbeing; parents of children with special educational needs and neurodevelopmental disorders (SEN/ND) report higher levels of stress across all areas; while child behaviour is rarely a stressor for parents of non-SEN/ND children, it was frequently a stressor for parents of children with SEN/ND; 4 in 5 of those who were previously receiving support from services have had this stopped or postponed during the pandemic; parents particularly want support around their child’s emotional wellbeing, education and coming out of social isolation; parents of children with SEN/ND would also like support around managing their child’s behaviour; and parents and carers would value online written materials and videos, while parents with children with SEN/ND would also like online support from professionals.

Last updated on hub: 01 July 2020

Report 03: parents/carers report on their own and their children’s concerns about children attending school

Emerging Minds

This report provides cross-sectional data from approximately 611 parents and carers who have taken part in an online survey tracking the mental health of school-aged children and young people aged 4-16 years throughout the COVID-19 crisis. It focuses specifically on concerns around children and young people attending school during the Covid-19 pandemic. The findings show that parents of children with SEN/ND are particularly uncomfortable about their children attending school, as are parents who do not work, and those with lower incomes. Particular concerns for parents of children with SEN/ND are that their child will not get the emotional, behavioural and educational support that they need, or the support they need with transitions to different groups/classes. Parents of children with SEN/ND or a pre-existing mental health difficulty report that their children are particularly concerned about things being uncertain or different, changes to routine, the enjoyable parts of school not happening, and being away from home.

Last updated on hub: 01 July 2020

Report 04: changes in children and young people’s emotional and behavioural difficulties through lockdown

University of Oxford

This report provides longitudinal data from 2,890 parents and carers who took part in both a baseline and follow up questionnaires tracking the mental health of school-aged children and young people aged 4-16 years throughout the COVID-19 crisis. The report examines changes in parent and carer and adolescent self-reported emotional, behavioural and restless and attentional difficulties over a one-month period as lockdown has progressed. It shows that over a one-month period in lockdown parents and carers of primary school age children report an increase in their child’s emotional, behavioural, and restless and attentional difficulties; parents and carers of secondary school age children report a reduction in their child’s emotional difficulties, but an increase in restless and attentional behaviours; adolescents report no change in their own emotional or behavioural, and restless and attentional difficulties; parents and carers of children with SEN and those with a pre-existing mental health difficulty report a reduction in their child’s emotional difficulties and no change in behavioural or restless and attentional difficulties; parents and carers of high-income households report an increase in their child’s behavioural difficulties.

Last updated on hub: 30 June 2020

Report 05: changes in children and young people's mental health symptoms and 'caseness' during lockdown and patterns associated with key demographic factors

University of Oxford

This report provides longitudinal data from 2,729 parents/carers who took part in both the baseline questionnaire and the first follow up questionnaire, as part of the Co-SPACE study. The study is tracking the mental health of school-aged children and young people aged 4-16 years throughout the COVID-19 crisis. An online survey is sent out and completed on a monthly basis by parents/carers and young people (if aged 11-16 years) throughout the pandemic. The report examines the changes in children and young people’s emotional, behavioural and restless/attentional difficulties, as reported by parents/carers, over a one-month period during lockdown before any easing of restrictions had taken place. The analysis shows that in primary school aged children, there were mean increases in emotional, behavioural and restlessness/inattention difficulties. The proportion of children likely to have significant difficulties in one of these 3 areas also increased, by up to 35%. In young people of secondary school age, there was a reduction in emotional difficulties, no change in behavioural difficulties and a slight increase in restlessness/inattention. For children and young people from low income households, emotional and attention difficulties (and behaviour difficulties for primary school aged children) were consistently elevated compared to those from higher income households, with around two and a half times as many children experiencing significant problems in low income households. There were similar levels of emotional, behavioural and restless/attention difficulties for children and young people from single and multiple adult households, but primary school aged children from single adult households were reported as having more emotional difficulties than those from multiple adult households throughout lockdown.

Last updated on hub: 24 September 2020

Report 06: changes in children and young people’s mental health symptoms from March to October 2020

University of Oxford

This report focuses on parent and carer reports of their children’s mental health symptoms at monthly intervals from March to October 2020. It provides an overview of monthly data from 7,192 parents/carers. These participants completed a survey at least once since the start of the UK lockdown (between 30/03/2020 and 31/10/2020), as part of the Co-SPACE study. The study is tracking the mental health of school-aged children and young people aged 4-16 years throughout the COVID-19 crisis. An online survey is sent out and completed on a monthly basis by parents/carers and young people (if aged 11-16 years) throughout the pandemic. Based on average scores of parent/carer reports within the Co- SPACE sample, the analysis shows that: behavioural and restless/attentional difficulties increased through the lockdown from March to June – this was especially the case in primary school aged children (4-10 years old); in secondary school aged children (11-17 year old), emotional difficulties slightly decreased at the beginning of the lockdown (March to April); behavioural, emotional, and restless/ attentional difficulties appear to have decreased after the lockdown eased, from July, throughout the summer holidays, and through the opening of schools in September (especially in primary school aged children); secondary school aged girls were reported to have higher levels of emotional difficulties than boys overall, with an increase at the end of the summer (July to August) before the reopening of schools; restless/attentional difficulties in secondary school aged children (11-17 year old) decreased from August to September; children with SEN/ND and those from lower income household (< £16,000 p.a.) had elevated and relatively stable levels of behavioural, emotional, and restless/ attentional difficulties throughout the whole period (March to October).

Last updated on hub: 01 December 2020