COVID-19 resources on safeguarding children

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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

Building a country that works for all children post COVID-19

The Association of Directors of Children's Services

This discussion paper looks at the impacts of Covid-19 on children and their families. Its purpose is three-fold: to put children, young people and their lived experiences of the pandemic front and centre in national recovery planning; to articulate what is needed to restore the public support services they rely on; and to capture the positives and gains made during a very complex national, and indeed, global emergency. The paper reveals that the directors of children’s services in England share concerns about increased exposure of children to ‘hidden harms’ such as domestic violence and the impact of social distancing on children and young people’s development and on their mental and emotional health and wellbeing. The vulnerability of specific cohorts, including care leavers, young carers, children and young people in conflict with the law and families with no recourse to public funds, has been heightened during this period. Covid-19 has disrupted professionals’ relationships with children and families and weakened the sustainability of both the voluntary and charitable sector and the early years and childcare sector. Both families and the workforce have shown great levels of resilience, flexibility and creativity. The paper calls for a rapid review of the response to the first phase of the pandemic to improve preparedness for future waves and spikes of infection, arguing that the experiences of practitioners and of children and families must be part of this process. It also suggests that the recovery phase offers the government an opportunity to further its ‘levelling up’ agenda, and the initiation of an ambitious, world leading health inequalities strategy, making wellbeing rather than straightforward economic performance the central goal of policy.

Last updated on hub: 20 July 2020

Safeguarding: remote and blended learning: challenges and approaches

Education and Training Inspectorate

This paper identifies the key safeguarding challenges faced by schools and educational and training organisations during the period of educational closures due to COVID-19 and how these have been approached across all phases of education and training. Challenges include: the impact of the absence of day-to-day contact with more vulnerable children and young people; the reported increase in domestic abuse cases during COVID-19; a need to have updated policies reflecting a change to e-learning practices; concerns regarding the use of online remote learning platforms or communication methods; the high numbers of apprentices who have lost their jobs or been furloughed; most European Social Fund (ESF) projects lacking the IT infrastructure for remote learning and on-line support for their participants. The paper sets out a range of examples from each phase detailing how specific organisations have responded and the approaches they have put in place.

Last updated on hub: 20 July 2020

Lessons from lockdown: supporting vulnerable children and young people returning to school and to learning

Barnardo's UK

This briefing highlights what Action for Children Cymru and Barnardo’s Cymru have learnt from their services, practitioners, and partners in schools about the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable children, young people and their families. It explores what might facilitate their recovery and promote their development as we emerge from the crisis. In particular it explores the support that may be needed in, and for, schools to support the mental health and well-being of vulnerable children and young people as they transition back into the learning environment; and to support vulnerable families so that, where possible, children and young people can remain at home safely and improve their well-being, development and learning. The evidence suggests that during a time of pandemic more children and families will require a range of support over the short to medium term. In order to address this expected need the briefing recommends a set of actions, including reviewing the Together for Mental Health Delivery plan to extend access to additional lower tier, non-clinical community based services, to all families with school aged children.

Last updated on hub: 14 July 2020