COVID-19 resources

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Child safety, protection, and safeguarding in the time of COVID-19 in Great Britain: proposing a conceptual framework

Child Abuse and Neglect

Background: Great Britain has the highest coronavirus death rate in Europe. While the pandemic clearly poses a risk to the lives and wellbeing of vulnerable groups, necessary public health measures taken to delay or limit the spread of the virus have led to distinctive challenges for prevention, family support, court processes, placement and alternative care. The pandemic has also come about at a time when statutory changes to partnerships have led to a reduction in the importance of educational professional representation in the new formulation in England and Wales. Objectives: In this discussion paper, we propose a novel and pragmatic conceptual framework during this challenging time. Participants: We consulted with 8 education professionals and 4 field-based student social workers. Setting: Bodies responsible for safeguarding have been working quickly to develop new approaches to fulfilling their responsibilities, for example through online home visits and case conferences. However, some communities have been highlighted as experiencing particular challenges because of the pandemic and its impacts. Protection of vulnerable children is increasingly dependent on individualised - and often pathologising - practice with a lack of emphasis on the importance of the social. Holistic consideration of the child is side-lined. Results: Our framework comprises two phases: pandemic and aspirational. Conclusion: The framework illuminates the importance of interconnected sectors and multi-agency working, the need for resilient and adaptable support systems, and the need to promote the importance of children’s rights and voices to be heard above the noise of the pandemic.

Last updated on hub: 21 January 2021

Child maltreatment during the COVID-19 pandemic: consequences of parental job loss on psychological and physical abuse towards children

Child Abuse and Neglect

Background: Job loss resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic presents significant risk for child abuse. Protective factors, such as reframing coping, may mitigate the risk of job loss on child maltreatment. Objective: The current study investigated factors associated with child maltreatment during the COVID-19 pandemic, including parental job loss, and whether cognitive reframing moderated associations between job loss and child maltreatment. Method: A community sample of 342 parents (62% mothers) of 4- to 10-year-olds (M = 7.38, SD = 2.01; 57.3% male) living in the United States completed online questionnaires regarding experiences with COVID-19, the Parent-Child Conflict Tactics Scale, and the Family Crisis Oriented Personal Evaluation Scales. Results: Two logistic regression analyses evaluated predictors of whether parents psychologically maltreated or physically abused their children during the pandemic controlling for maltreating history, parental depressive symptoms, financial stability, parent age, parent gender, child age, and child gender. Parents who lost their jobs (OR = 4.86, 95% CI [1.19, 19.91], p = .03), were more depressed (OR = 1.05, 95% CI [1.02, 1.08], p < .01), and previously psychologically maltreated their children (OR = 111.94, 95% CI [28.54, 439.01], p < .001) were more likely to psychologically maltreat during the pandemic. Regarding physical abuse, a significant interaction between job loss and reframing coping emerged (OR = 0.76, 95% CI [0.59, 0.99], p = .04). Among parents who lost their jobs, the probability of physical abuse decreased as reframing coping increased. Conclusions: Job loss during the COVID-19 pandemic is a significant risk factor for child maltreatment. Reframing coping may be an important buffer of this association on physical abuse and presents implications for maltreatment prevention.

Last updated on hub: 21 January 2021

Stress and parenting during the global COVID-19 pandemic

Child Abuse and Neglect

Objective: This study examined the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in relation to parental perceived stress and child abuse potential. Participants and Setting: Participants included parents (N = 183) with a child under the age of 18 years in the western United States. Method: Tests of group differences and hierarchical multiple regression analyses were employed to assess the relationships among demographic characteristics, COVID-19 risk factors, mental health risk factors, protective factors, parental perceived stress, and child abuse potential. Results: Greater COVID-19 related stressors and high anxiety and depressive symptoms are associated with higher parental perceived stress. Receipt of financial assistance and high anxiety and depressive symptoms are associated with higher child abuse potential. Conversely, greater parental support and perceived control during the pandemic are associated with lower perceived stress and child abuse potential. Results also indicate racial and ethnic differences in COVID-19 related stressors, but not in mental health risk, protective factors, perceived stress, or child abuse potential. Conclusion: Findings suggest that although families experience elevated stressors from COVID-19, providing parental support and increasing perceived control may be promising intervention targets.

Last updated on hub: 21 January 2021

COVID-19-related fear and stress among individuals who experienced child abuse: the mediating effect of complex posttraumatic stress disorder

Child Abuse and Neglect

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic exposes individuals not only to health-related risks, but also to psychosocial fear and acute stress. Previous studies reveal that individuals who experienced child abuse (CA), especially those who suffer from complex posttraumatic stress disorder (CPTSD), are at a higher risk of reacting with fear and stress when faced with stressful life-events. Objective: To test whether exposure to CA is implicated in a higher risk of COVID-19-related fear and acute stress, and whether CPTSD intervenes in such processes. Participants and settings: A convenience sample of 837 adults participated in the study during the first peak of COVID-19 in Israel. Methods: Participants completed self-report questionnaires, assessing child physical, sexual and emotional abuse, CPTSD (ITQ), COVID-19-related acute stress disorder (COVID-19 ASD; ASDS) and fear of COVID-19. Results: Bivariate analyses showed that participants who experienced CA were higher than participants who did not experience CA in COVID-19 ASD (p = .032), but not in fear of COVID-19 (p = .65). Mediation analyses demonstrated two significant paths: in the first, CA was associated with elevated fear of COVID-19 (effect = .061, .059; p < 0.05) and COVID-19 ASD (effect = .14, .084; p < 0.05) through the mediation of CPTSD; in the second path, when controlling for the mediation of CPTSD, CA was associated with reduced fear of COVID-19 (effect = −.15; p = 0.001), and COVID-19 ASD (effect = −.12; p = 0.024). Conclusions: The findings reveal a complex pattern, indicating that CPTSD may be a risk factor for elevated levels of COVID-19 distress among individuals who experienced CA. However, some CA survivors may express reduced COVID-19 distress.

Last updated on hub: 21 January 2021

Child welfare in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic – emerging evidence from Germany

Child Abuse and Neglect

Background: The coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on the situation and well-being of children and their families, while simultaneously affecting the ability of welfare services for children and youth to support vulnerable families. As measures of contact restrictions were introduced to contain the virus, and schools and childcare facilities closed, the potential risk to child welfare could hardly be overlooked. Objectives: Focusing on Germany, this article aims to explore some of the effects of the COVID-19 measures on children and families. Furthermore, it examines a number of key challenges for child protection practitioners. These include identifying potential cases of child maltreatment without the support normally provided by teachers and child carers; and establishing and maintaining contact with clients under physical distancing rules. Methods: The article is based on a review of German and English language scientific and journalistic articles, position papers from professional associations and other gray literature. It benefits from recently published (interim) results of empirical studies conducted in Germany, which explore child welfare issues in the pandemic. Conclusion: Under COVID-19, the child welfare system faces unprecedented challenges and uncertainty (e.g. (partial) loss of cooperation opportunities with key partners) whilst showing signs of remarkable resilience (e.g. child protection workers’ ability to adjust to new conditions). While the potential of digitalising work processes in child protection has become apparent in the pandemic, the proven continuous face-to-face contact between practitioners and their clients is neither dispensable nor replaceable.

Last updated on hub: 21 January 2021

COVID-19 health crisis and prevalence of anxiety among individuals of various age groups: a qualitative study

Journal of Mental Health Training Education and Practice

Purpose: The monetary and psycho-social ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic have been extensive and unimaginable around the globe. The purpose of this study was to have a psycho-social analysis of people confronting this situation and its impact in the situation of a health crisis on them. Design/methodology/approach: In the current study, participants were divided according to their different backgrounds and professions based on the types of measures taken by the Pakistani government to limit the spread of the virus and people who are not disturbed by any of the measurement categories but are troubled by the coronavirus. The interviews based on five open-ended questions were conducted with the eight participants, comprising questions that helped participants in remembering and realizing the purpose of the interview in the mode of an open questioning. Phenomenological interpretative analysis was used to understand how participants make meaning of the phenomenon being studied, an in-depth analysis of the human subject was considered in its singularity, and personal accounts and experiences were noted regarding this pandemic. Findings: The results indicated that the participant’s experiences were marked by stress, insecurity, anger, fear, anxiety, traces of painful emotions and a feeling of weakness. Also the prevalence of unknown precariousness and vulnerability of coronavirus aggravated the psychological frailness among people existing in an anxiety-prone situation created by the novel coronavirus. Confronted with these painful experiences, the participants however, used a variety of cognitive and behavioral efforts which needs to be strengthened by psychological care. Research limitations/implications: This study based on qualitative method was performed on diverse socio-professional levels, giving an insight to what they are undergoing, their current fears, desires and their feeling. The outcome of this study reveals traces of uncertainty, anxiety, fears, insecurity and hidden imminent death from coronavirus, therefore highlighting a need for immediate psychological interventions. Originality/value: This study explores the individual understanding regarding current coronavirus pandemic situation on subjective lived experiences and psychological health in an anxiety-prone context manifested by the health crisis created by the novel corona virus.

Last updated on hub: 21 January 2021

Webinar: Best Interests Decisions - Supporting Primary Care in Difficult Times

The National Mental Capacity Forum will hold its 7th 'Rapid Response' webinar. The webinar will focus on best interests decision-making in primary care settings during the pandemic.

Last updated on hub: 20 January 2021

COVID-19 vaccinations for community-based social care workers

Department of Health and Social Care

Outline of plans for getting the COVID-19 vaccine to social care workers based in the community. Local authorities must work with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and NHS partners to identify providers of social care services and the social care workers they employ and send employers of social care workers the appropriate national and local vaccination communications, including eligibility letters. Providers must support staff to make informed decisions about getting the vaccine; support staff to have the vaccine; and keep staff records of vaccinations.

Last updated on hub: 20 January 2021

Managing mental health through Covid-19: tips for good practice

Association of Directors of Adult Social Services

The COVID-19 pandemic presents various mental health challenges for a wide range of communities across the UK. Evidence has emerged of a specific and serious impact for those with underlying health conditions and for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities. As new measures are introduced, their effects on many people’s usual activities, routines or livelihoods multiply, resulting in increased levels of loneliness, depression, harmful alcohol and drug use, and self-harm or suicidal behaviour. This publication highlights some overarching principles and local innovative practices that are being adopted by different local authorities to meet these increasing needs and prevent people entering secondary mental health services unnecessarily. While mental health is determined by much broader factors than access to mental health services, these are critical for people experiencing mental illness. Services were already stretched, with many providers reporting an inability to meet the rising demand prior to the pandemic, and lockdown is adding pressure that is likely to increase in future. These good practice examples show what can be achieved with good partnership working, excellent communication channels and a genuine desire to improve the lives of those who experience mental health issues.

Last updated on hub: 20 January 2021

Lockdown lessons: what 2020 has to teach us about the difficult weeks ahead

Resolution Foundation

This briefing focuses on the experience of the first Covid-19 lockdown, and what it can teach us about what is to come. Some of the lessons identified are for policy makers, but others are for employers and workers, parents and friends trying to manage through these challenging times. The five lessons are: the inequality of the first lockdown was not just about who saw their work dry up – it was also about the very different lived experience of staying at home; school closures are tough on children, both in the short- and long-term; low-income families often have to spend more in lockdown; mums pay an especially heavy price for school closures – women were almost twice as likely to cut hours of work to care for children than men when schools were closed; many families are entering this lockdown with lower reserves – those with the lowest savings were most likely to draw down on their reserves for everyday costs during the pandemic. The briefing argues that policy needs to respond to this reality, not least by maintaining financial support and scrapping plans to reduce benefits by £1,000 per year in April.

Last updated on hub: 20 January 2021