COVID-19 resources on Safeguarding Children

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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

Domestic abuse: get help during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Home Office

Guidance on how to get help for people who are victims of domestic violence or know someone who is a victim of domestic abuse. It acknowledges that coronavirus household isolation instructions can cause anxiety for those who are experiencing or feel at risk of domestic abuse and makes it clear that those instructions do not apply if someone needs to leave their home to escape domestic abuse. The guidance covers the following topics: coronavirus (COVID-19) and domestic abuse; recognise domestic abuse; report it; get help if you, or someone you know, is a victim; economic abuse; welfare benefits and housing advice; get help if you think you may be an abuser; support for employers and professionals; get legal help; What to do if you don’t have settled status in the UK. The guidance signposts to additional support materials. [Published 5 October 2018. Last updated 28 October 2021]

Last updated on hub: 30 June 2020

Domestic violence and abuse: Safeguarding during the COVID-19 crisis

Social Care Institute for Excellence

A guide aimed at those supporting adults and children who are experiencing domestic abuse during the coronavirus crisis.

Last updated on hub: 22 April 2020

Home learning during the Covid-19 lockdown: the impact of school closures on care experienced children

Adoption UK

This report examines the challenges of supporting vulnerable children’s learning during the COVID-19 lockdown and makes recommendations for the months ahead. To find out about the impact of school closures on care experienced children, a week-long survey was carried out in April for parents and carers of care-experienced children who would normally be in school. There were 674 responses, which form the basis for this report. The survey revealed that the lockdown has had significant impacts on families, both positive and negative. Some have reported severe challenges, including increases in challenging behaviour, violence and aggression, and concerns about the mental wellbeing of both children and adults in the household. However, some families have reaped positive benefits, enjoying spending more time with their children and having more conversations with them, with many reporting that their children seem calmer without the stress of school. The report argues that planning now for the re-opening of school settings is crucial. It recommends that Governments in all four nations of the UK provide additional funding and resources to help schools support children, include support with learning and with wellbeing. In addition, specific guidance should be given to schools about supporting care experienced children and those with special and additional learning needs during school closures.

Last updated on hub: 29 June 2020

Isolated and struggling: social isolation and the risk of child maltreatment, in lockdown and beyond

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

This briefing pulls together research evidence to explore whether the conditions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic heighten the risk of child maltreatment in the UK. From the analysis of a range of different risks and issues three main areas of risk were identified: 1. Increase in stressors to parents and caregivers – the evidence confirms that the risk of child abuse is higher when caregivers become overloaded by the stressors in their lives and there are indications that the coronavirus pandemic has increased stressors on caregivers; 2. Increase in children and young people's vulnerability – there are indications that the conditions caused by the coronavirus pandemic have heightened the vulnerability of children and young people to certain types of abuse, for example online abuse, abuse within the home, criminal exploitation and child sexual exploitation; 3. Reduction in normal protective services – there is evidence that the ‘normal’ safeguards have been reduced during the pandemic but social connections and social support can provide a protective effect for children’s safety and wellbeing. The report recommends a national and local response from governments and statutory agencies which includes practical steps such as: providing practical support to parents around income maximisation to reduce stresses caused by financial insecurity; addressing digital exclusion, ensuring all children have access to the technology they need to access school, therapeutic support and other services; comprehensive and long-term funding for children’s services, with at least £2 billion a year invested in early intervention and therapeutic services.

Last updated on hub: 02 July 2020

Keeping children and young people safe during a pandemic: testing the robustness of multi-agency child protection and safeguarding arrangements for schools

National Institute for Health Research

This study explored whether the multi-agency arrangements, of which schools are a part, have been sufficiently robust not to place children at increased risk during the first months of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK. The study provided the opportunity to explore the role of the school in multi-agency work during this time, not only from the perspective of schools and children's social care, but from that of other agencies including child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), school nurses and the police. Five local authorities took part in the research; in addition to strategic and operational leads for education and children’s social care, interviews were conducted with representatives of the police, strategic managers in health services, schools and colleges, virtual school heads, the school nursing service and child and adult mental health services; and a survey was also undertaken to gain schools’ views on how, if at all, multi-agency working had changed under COVID-19 restrictions. The study identified initiatives which had been introduced before COVID-19 but were accelerated by the prevailing conditions, as well as those that were developed because of these conditions. There were numerous references both to how quickly agencies’ ways of working had adapted and how a reactive response had been followed by a more proactive approach. This had been possible because of conversations that led to improved processes as well as systems that had been rapidly introduced. The report argues that it is now critical to consider how agencies will build on the strengths that have emerged, not least how professionals increase their availability and accessibility to others, and to reflect on those aspects of multi-agency work that did not get done or were carried out less thoroughly than they would have been before the pandemic.

Last updated on hub: 15 December 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

Multi-agency safeguarding arrangements: overcoming the challenges of Covid-19 measures

Journal of Children's Services

Purpose: Information sharing and joint working between agencies undertaking direct work with children have long been recognised as fundamental to robust and effective safeguarding and child protection arrangements. The public health response to Covid-19 disrupted those arrangements abruptly. This study aims to identify some of the innovative practices that have been implemented and how responses might inform planning for multi-agency working in the future. Design/methodology/approach: This study presents reflections on preliminary fieldwork from a study of how agencies in London are responding to the challenges for multi-agency safeguarding arrangements created by the Covid-19 measures. It draws on the experience of expert practitioners in the research team as well as interviews with 17 senior professionals from local authorities, safeguarding partnerships and health. Findings: The study participants endorsed known concerns around increased risks to children and raised new concerns about particular groups of children that under normal circumstances would not have been at risk. They identified some unexpected benefits derived from new arrangements, especially in relation to engagement with remote working. Originality/value: Early insights are offered into promising initiatives to preserve strong multi-agency arrangements in crises and strengthen the resilience of the child protection system.

Last updated on hub: 30 December 2020

NetClean report: Covid-19 impact 2020: a report about child sexual abuse crime

NetClean

The first part of this report looks at how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected child sexual abuse (CSA) crime. Section two of the report looks at why businesses and organisations choose to address child sexual abuse material (CSAM) in corporate environments. Findings from a survey of 470 law enforcement officers from 39 countries who work on cases pertaining to CSA crime indicate that the fallout from the pandemic has clearly affected online CSA crime and has had an impact on offline CSA crime. The surveyed police officers reported that lockdowns, social restrictions and school closures led to both adults and children spending more time online, therefore increasing the risk of online CSA crime. Confinement to the home meant that children may have been isolated with their abuser. During school closures, children did not have access to mandatory reporters, which according to the respondents affected the number of reports of offline CSA crime. The results also suggest that online CSA activity and online reporting has increased; there has been a moderate increase in actual CSA investigations; and COVID-19 has had an effect on the capacity to investigate CSA crimes. In addition, to identify the drivers for addressing CSAM in corporate environments, interviews were conducted with sixteen employees from sixteen businesses and organisations, who work in the areas of: sustainability, ethics and compliance, it security, human resources and legal. The interviews revealed that the companies’ core drive is to act as ethical entities, and this was furthered by their statements that they consider the drive to protect and safeguard children the most crucial reason for installing software to identify CSAM on IT equipment. Other drivers for addressing CSAM in corporate environments ranged from sustainability and corporate social responsibility frameworks, policy compliance and risk assessments from a compliance perspective, to IT security risks, brand protection and human resources drivers.

Last updated on hub: 01 February 2021

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

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