COVID-19 resources

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Data-informed recommendations for services providers working with vulnerable children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic

Child Abuse and Neglect

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic and associated response measures have led to unprecedented challenges for service providers working with vulnerable children and families around the world. Objective: The goal of the present study was to better understand the impact of the pandemic and associated response measures on vulnerable children and families and provide data-informed recommendations for public and private service providers working with this population. Participants and Setting: Representatives from 87 non-government organizations (NGOs) providing a variety of direct services (i.e. residential care, family preservation, foster care, etc.) to 454,637 vulnerable children and families in 43 countries completed a brief online survey. Methods: Using a mixed methods design, results examined 1) ways in which children and families have been directly impacted by COVID-19, 2) the impact of the pandemic on services provided by NGOs, 3) government responses and gaps in services for this population during the pandemic, and 4) strategies that have been effective in filling these gaps. Results: Data revealed that the pandemic and restrictive measures were associated with increased risk factors for vulnerable children and families, including not having access to vital services. The NGOs experienced government restrictions, decreased financial support, and inability to adequately provide services. Increased communication and supportive activities had a positive impact on both NGO staff and the families they serve. Conclusions: Based on the findings, ten recommendations were made for service providers working with vulnerable children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last updated on hub: 12 August 2020

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on child welfare: sexual abuse

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

This briefing uses insight from Childline counselling sessions and NSPCC helpline contacts to highlight the impact of child sexual abuse within the family during the coronavirus pandemic. This includes abuse by an adult parent, carer or relative; the partner of a family member; a sibling; or a cousin. The briefing highlights that the restrictions created by the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated the risk for some children who were experiencing sexual abuse within their family home. Lockdown provided some perpetrators with more opportunities to sexually abuse children in their family. Being in lockdown also made it harder for children to speak out to trusted adults, ask for help and get the support they needed; conversely, in some cases, the stay-at-home rules increased the urgency for adults to contact the NSPCC helpline and report their concerns. The analysis also finds that spending more time alone and without the usual distractions meant that distressing memories of past abuse began to surface for some young people. The briefing calls on governments to deal with the “hidden harms” of the pandemic and ensure support for children who have experienced sexual abuse is embedded in recovery planning. In England this must include the publication and implementation of a comprehensive, cross-government strategy for tackling child sexual abuse.

Last updated on hub: 11 August 2020

Putting children first in future lockdowns

Children’s Commissioner for England

Sets out the key actions needed to ensure children are at the heart of planning for any future coronavirus lockdowns. The briefing focuses on a range of aspects and settings, including education, early years, mental health, play and activity, online harms, housing, children’s social care, and secure settings. It sets out ten principles that should guide any policy and action, arguing that children’s perspectives must be better reflected in scientific and public health advice; education should be prioritised over other sectors; full lockdowns must balance the epidemiological benefit to children against the social and health costs to children of closures to schools, leisure/youth centres and other facilities; any rights extended to adults must also be given to children in ways that work for them (e.g., right to exercise outdoor); communication about the lockdown must make clear that risk of infection should not prevent children and families seeking help they need, such as urgent healthcare which is not related to the virus or refuge from domestic abuse. The briefing also argues that more specific guidance is needed for children’s homes and further guidance should be issued to local authorities to prioritise the safeguarding of vulnerable children during any future lockdown, including those who do not currently have a social worker. Local authorities should also be working with local partners to proactively identify children who become vulnerable during the lockdown, including in families where domestic abuse may have arisen or increased or where parental substance misuse or mental health problems have escalated.

Last updated on hub: 11 August 2020

The state of child poverty 2020: the impact of COVID-19 on families and young people living in poverty

Buttle UK

This report provides insight into the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic inside the homes of the most vulnerable families in the UK. It presents findings of a qualitative study of nearly 1000 nationwide frontline workers was carried out at the point lockdown restrictions started being lifted in June 2020 and is based on a survey of support workers who have been interacting daily with families throughout the crisis. The report provides a detailed picture of the basic essentials many children in poverty have to go without; the adversities and trauma they have to cope with; how children and young people in poverty have an unequal access to education and how all of these difficulties have a significant detrimental impact on their mental health. The findings show that during lockdown, there have been multiple pressures on children's education – food poverty and a lack of digital access being two of the main issues. As a result, the education gap has widened, and many vulnerable children will have been left behind by the crisis. The impact of being cut off from peers has also impacted mental health – 84% of frontline workers have seen increases in children and young people’s mental health problems. In addition, COVID-19 has impacted considerably on families’ financial wellbeing and their ability to meeting their children's basic needs – 83% of frontline workers have seen an increase in need for foodbanks and 64% for local authority welfare assistance; frontline workers reported major difficulties during lockdown for families in accessing basics, with 57% of families unable to afford essential household items and 47% of families unable to afford food.

Last updated on hub: 11 August 2020

Babies in lockdown: listening to parents to build back better

Best Beginnings

Findings from an online survey of over 5,000 mothers, fathers and other co-parents, capturing the experiences of parents coping with the implications of COVID-19 lockdown, and highlighting the lack of support for families, and the inequalities in babies’ early experiences. The report reveals that almost 7 in 10 respondents found their ability to cope with their pregnancy or baby had been impacted as a result of COVID-19; nearly 7 in 10 felt the changes brought about by COVID-19 were affecting their unborn baby, baby or young child; only one third expressed confidence in being able to access mental health support if required; and many families with lower incomes, from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and young parents have been hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic and were less likely to receive the support they needed. The report makes three policy calls: a one-off Baby Boost to enable local services to support families who have had a baby during or close to lockdown; a new Parent-Infant Premium providing new funding for local commissioners, targeted at improving outcomes for the most vulnerable children; and significant and sustained investment in core funding to support families from conception to age two and beyond, including in statutory services, charities and community groups.

Last updated on hub: 11 August 2020

Experiences of virtual children's hearings: a rapid consultation

Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland

Findings of a rapid consultation to identify key areas of focus for further strengthening the experience of virtual children’s hearings in Scotland. Children’s hearings are the primary forum in which issues of juvenile justice, care, and protection relating to children and young people are handled. Due to restrictions as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, virtual hearings have taken place using video-conferencing technology. The study indicates that many of those involved felt that moving to virtual hearings was a positive step forward and offered advantages and beneficial opportunities to participants. These included a more familiar environment for young people parents and carers, reducing the time and cost of travel whilst ensuring the hearings could still go ahead, and that innovative practice had been established in trying to ensure everyone was listened to and able to take part. However, the findings also identified some aspects of virtual hearings that participants found more challenging and which impacted on their participation. These included accessing paperwork, confidential space for advocates and participants, and technological barriers. Fairness, how inclusive a virtual hearing can be, and the rights of children, were key concerns also raised for further development. The report identifies key areas of focus for continuous improvement where the experience of virtual hearings can be strengthened, including ensuring children and young people have the opportunity to speak to the panel on their own if they or the panel wish; ensuring participants are fully supported; and are given access to the paper ahead of the hearing.

Last updated on hub: 11 August 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19): tips for the housing sector on supporting someone affected by dementia

Housing LIN

This briefing sets out a number of top tips for the housing sector, operators and commissioners of specialist housing – such as extra care or retirement housing – or general needs housing, on supporting people affected by dementia during the coronavirus pandemic. It also signposts to a selection of useful links and further practical advice. People living with dementia normally thrive on familiarity; familiar faces, a familiar environment, familiar food, and familiar routines, all of which may be compromised by the enforced period of isolation necessary to fight the coronavirus. The top tips highlight some of the best practice and legal issues in supporting decisions that might need to be made about health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 outbreak; considers how to continue to provide practical assistance, support and manage risks; and provides information on maintaining meaningful activity and minimising loneliness during this period of enforced isolation.

Last updated on hub: 11 August 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to welfare benefits

Housing LIN

This briefing sets out information on welfare benefit changes under COVID-19, including Universal Credit, Jobseekers, and sickness and disability benefits, as well as the government’s response to work and sickness. It is aimed at social landlords, local authorities and other organisations advising and supporting working age adults. The briefing highlights a few examples of practice from housing associations and the types money and benefit information being offered to residents, including as a result of their financially changing situations brought about by Coronavirus. It also signposts to latest relevant government guidance and where to go for further advice and support.

Last updated on hub: 11 August 2020

Care homes and supported living: Learning and sharing following the COVID-19 lockdown

Social Care Institute for Excellence

Practice examples and resources to support care home and supported living staff.

Last updated on hub: 11 August 2020

COVID-19: guidance for supported living

Department of Health and Social Care

This guidance sets out key messages to assist with planning and preparation in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic so that local procedures can be put in place to minimise risk and provide the best possible support to people in supported living settings. It describes safe systems of working including, social distancing, respiratory and hand hygiene and enhanced cleaning and examines how infection prevention and control (IPC) and personal protective equipment (PPE) applies to supported living settings. Key topics covered include: steps that supported living providers and local authorities can take to maintain service delivery; risk assessment, risk reduction and local implementation; staff within clinically vulnerable groups; general infection prevention and control; visitors and support bubbles; what to do if a supported living worker has COVID-19 symptoms; and what to do if someone in supported living has symptoms of COVID-19. This guide updates and builds on the previous advice to supported living providers, which was withdrawn on 13 May 2020. [Published 6 August 2020. Last updated 25 November 2020.]

Last updated on hub: 10 August 2020