COVID-19 resources on safeguarding children

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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: This discussion paper proposes a novel and pragmatic conceptual framework during this challenging time. Participants: This study 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: The 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: 08 October 2020

Beyond the pandemic: strategic priorities for responding to childhood trauma: a coronavirus pandemic policy briefing

UK Trauma Council

This policy briefing focuses on the psychological consequences of trauma experienced by children – including younger children such as infants – as well as older adolescents. The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on children and young people’s lives. The report identifies three ways in which the pandemic is impacting on the experience of childhood trauma: it increases the risk that more children will be exposed to trauma, including through sudden bereavement or exposure to domestic violence; it increases the likelihood that those with prior experiences of trauma (for example, because of abuse) will experience significant difficulties; and it compromises the ability of adults and professional systems to identify a struggling child and mitigate the impact of trauma, including mental health problems. The report puts forward four recommendations as a framework for action, to be taken forward in different ways across the UK. These are: prioritise responding to trauma in national and local strategies; invest in specialist trauma provision for children and young people; equip all professionals who work with children and young people with the skills and capacity to support those who have experienced trauma; and shift models of help towards prevention, through research, clinical innovation and training.

Last updated on hub: 24 September 2020

Safeguarding during coronavirus: voluntary and community groups

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

This resource brings together information and guidance that can help the voluntary and community sector safeguard and protect children and young people during the coronavirus pandemic. This includes information about: writing and updating safeguarding and child protection policies and procedures; making sure your staff and volunteers are safe to work with children; supporting children and families; recognising and responding to abuse; carrying out online activities and events; and an overview of the relevant guidance on running safe activities.

Last updated on hub: 23 September 2020

Webinar recording: Online Q and A: COVID-19 and safeguarding in faith-based organisations

Social Care Institute for Excellence

SCIE, as part of the Safeguarding Training Fund, and in collaboration with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and the National Lottery Community Fund, held an online Q and A webinar on the safeguarding implications of COVID-19 for those working in faith-based organisations.

Last updated on hub: 15 September 2020

No way out: children stuck in B&Bs during lockdown

Children’s Commissioner for England

An analysis of the impact of Covid-19 crisis, drawing on data from the 15 local authorities with the highest numbers of children in B&B accommodation. This research estimates that there were between 1,100 – 2,000 families in England in B&Bs on 23 March. It is estimated that this range has dropped to between 750 and 1,350 by the time full lockdown ended on 31 May. Furthermore, there was an increase in the proportion of families who had spent longer than 6 weeks in B&Bs between 23 March and 31 May, despite this being unlawful. The report argues that while living in a B&B has never been appropriate for a child, the problems have been amplified during Covid-19. Unable to attend school, children living in cramped conditions were struggling to complete schoolwork, putting them at a distinct disadvantage from their peers. Although families were technically still able to go to parks for their exercise during this time, many families were too anxious to do so. The stresses of living in a B&B are heightened when families share the building with vulnerable adults also being housed by the council or other services, such as those with mental health or drug abuse problems – being unable to escape the B&B during lockdown would have increased feelings of anxiety. In addition, the lockdown, reduced the opportunities for contact between homeless families and the professionals that normally protect them. The Children’s Commissioner calls for: support for children who were homeless during lockdown; all families housed in B&Bs to be moved out of them in the event of further local or national lockdowns; and action to prevent new family homelessness in the coming weeks and months.

Last updated on hub: 03 September 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

Recovery plan: safeguarding and child protection

The Children's Society

This briefing sets out the principle concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on the safety and wellbeing of children and the ability of agencies to respond to situations where children are at risk of harm within their family unit, or from others online and in communities. It outlines short-term and long-term actions that national and/or local government should prioritise to protect children in the context of COVID-19 pandemic. There is very limited evidence on the full impact of the pandemic and lockdown on children and families but the available data and evidence from practitioners working directly with families and children highlight a number of emerging concerns, including: low visibility of children during lockdown; impact on the child protection services; lack of support for families under stress; children in domestic abuse situations; victims of child sexual abuse; child victims of criminal exploitation; children missing from home; young carers; increase in online risks; and pressures on the family justice system. To address the impact of COVID-19 on safeguarding children now and in the future the briefing recommends that the Government: ensure that all children at risk are reached with an offer of help; invest in children’s services capacity to safeguard children; ensure that all vulnerable children are supported to go back to education; put experiences of children and families at the heart of future responses; be ambitious in national policy changes.

Last updated on hub: 29 July 2020

Recovery plan: children in care and care leavers

The Children's Society

This briefing sets out key concerns about children in care and care leavers and the systems and structures that have been affected by COVID-19. It outlines the short-term and long-term actions that national and/or local government should prioritise when planning their support for children in care and care leavers in the context of COVID-19. The extent of the impact of the pandemic and ‘lockdown’ on the care system and care experienced young people is yet to be fully understood but emerging concerns include: placement breakdowns; safeguarding of children and young people in unregulated accommodation; children missing from care; impact on children and young people’s mental health; contact with families; out of area placements; care leavers; sufficiency and operational capacity. To address the impact of the pandemic on care experienced young people now and in the future, the briefing recommends that the Government: protect the rights and entitlements of care experienced young people; ensure care experienced young people can access education; support mental health and wellbeing of care experienced young people, ensuring trauma-informed approaches underpin the support children in care receive; be ambitious for, and supportive of, the needs of care leavers; put children’s interests, wishes and experiences at the heart of the Care Review, addressing early support work with families, sufficiency and commissioning of care placements, use of unregulated accommodation, trauma-informed practice, and support for social care professionals and carers.

Last updated on hub: 29 July 2020

Recovery planning for Covid-19: back to school

The Children's Society

This briefing sets out a recovery plan as children return to school following Covid-19 lockdown. It outlines a number of short, and longer term, actions that national Government, local authorities, and schools, could take to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic on children’s lives and ensure that education systems are strengthened and made more resilient for the future. Specifically, the paper focuses on children mental health and wellbeing, safeguarding aspects, learning and attainment and financial hardship and poverty. The briefing calls on the Department for Education to establish a national programme of wellbeing measurement for children and young people; and to facilitate a comprehensive and inclusive review of the impact of lockdown on education, shaped by the voices of children, parents and carers, teachers and other school staff, charities supporting children and families, unions and the Department.

Last updated on hub: 29 July 2020

Delivering a Coronavirus recovery that works for children: summary and recommendations

The Children's Society

This briefing sets out an approach to delivering a recovery from the impact of COVID-19 that works for all children. Such an approach is underpinned by a set of principles, including taking an integrated and holistic approach, promoting children’s rights and entitlements, treating children as partners, reducing inequalities, committing to a comprehensive, long-term funding settlement, responding to the changed needs, investing in the workforce, adopting relationship-based, person-centred models of care. Experts from across the children’s sector have been working closely together to produce a set of briefings summarised in this paper. These briefings build on these principles to begin to set out an approach to delivering a recovery which works for children across six key areas: child poverty and social security; mental health and wellbeing; early years recovery; supporting children in care and care leavers; safeguarding and child protection; and school returns.

Last updated on hub: 29 July 2020

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