COVID-19 resources on Safeguarding Children

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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

Out of sight? Vulnerable young people: COVID-19 response

National Youth Agency

This report highlights the scale of young people’s needs which have increased or been caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It focuses on supporting and safeguarding vulnerable young people aged 8-19 with: ‘Known’ vulnerabilities amplified by COVID-19; At risk’ vulnerabilities exacerbated by COVID-19; and ‘Emerging’ vulnerabilities caused or triggered by COVID-19. The report draws on the latest data and vulnerability framework by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England and includes the views of partners and young people from across the youth sector. It identifies increased mental health problems, missing from education, increased risk at home, homelessness, self-harm and suicide, poverty, risky behaviours in potentially unsafe environments as key vulnerabilities for young people. It also identifies the potential role of youth work in alleviating these risks. It makes recommendations for Government to recognise youth services as an essential key service, and to encourage local authorities, children’s services and academy trusts to engage, deploy and up-skill youth workers in support of young people.

Last updated on hub: 06 May 2020

Professional practice guidance for children and families social work during Covid-19

British Association of Social Workers England

Practice guidance support frontline practitioners and provide a framework to influence good practice within the workplace, as well as helping social workers to manage the ethical and emotional impact of their work. Developed by the British Association of Social Workers, the guidance is based on best available evidence, latest public health guidance, practice experience. It highlights the importance of strengths-based and relationship-based practice. It also provides a checklist to help social workers to order their thinking when working with vulnerable children and their families and when meeting their own support needs. It includes links to resources and organisations providing additional support for children, families and their social workers.

Last updated on hub: 11 May 2020

Protecting children at a distance: a multi-agency investigation of child safeguarding and protection responses consequent upon COVID-19 lockdown/social distancing measures

King's College London

This report presents key findings from a study designed in response to widespread concerns about the operation of child safeguarding and protection arrangements consequent upon the COVID-19 lockdown and social distancing measures. In light of the challenges to intra- and interagency communication and the impact on joint working of actions taken by individual agencies, the study focused on safeguarding and protection practice, practitioner working and the multiagency response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report focuses on the findings from a survey, comprising 417 responses from senior safeguarding leaders. These data are enriched by the more than 1,000 comments made in response to open questions. Given the extensive disruption to fundamental pathways for the disclosure and identification of safeguarding and child protection concerns effected by the social distancing and lockdown measures, it is unsurprising that our survey respondents considered that the voice of the child has been less readily heard during the pandemic notwithstanding a plethora of initiatives. While there is much ambivalence among professionals in relation to remote communication, there is a clear desire for meetings and statutory processes to be conducted where possible and appropriate in a way which allows both in-person and remote attendance (‘hybrid’ arrangements). There is also clear scope for greater use of online or hybrid delivery of safeguarding training. Coordinated cross-government attention and investment is needed to address the complexity of inter- and multi-agency information sharing, assessment and service delivery to safeguard children and young people. As focus is directed to the importance of tackling the education deficits affecting the children of lockdown, we must not lose sight of the need to reconsider the central role of schools in safeguarding and child protection; the implications of the pandemic for the mental health of children and families; and the wellbeing of professionals. The report makes 28 recommendations.

Last updated on hub: 10 August 2021

Protecting children at a distance: summary of findings from Stage 1: a multi-agency investigation of child safeguarding and protection responses consequent upon COVID-19 lockdown/social distancing measures

King's College London

This report sets out the findings from the first stage of a study designed in response to widespread concerns about the operation of child safeguarding and protection arrangements consequent upon the Covid-19 lockdown and social distancing measures. In light of the challenges to intra- and interagency communication and the impact on joint working of actions taken by individual agencies, the study focuses on safeguarding and protection practice, practitioner working and the multiagency response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Stage I comprised 67 semi-structured hour-long interviews undertaken between June and September 2020 with safeguarding leaders in London from Safeguarding Partnerships, and children’s social care, health, police, law, education and mental health services. The report finds that that the speed at which lockdown was imposed exposed some inadequacies in contingency plans and poor resilience, despite the fact that no agencies reported significant reductions in overall staff capacity. Participants expressed widespread concern that children were largely side-lined in the response to the pandemic. They pointed to the urgent need for the government to recognise the multi-faceted long-term harm to children that is the likely legacy of the pandemic, from reduced educational attainment and employment opportunities to increased mental ill-health and delayed disclosure of maltreatment. The pandemic has both exposed and exacerbated inequalities, particularly digital poverty and gendered inequalities. An overarching government policy response is required that addresses preventative services and early help, including midwifery and health visiting, and that confronts the long-term implications for mental health services. Clear-sighted assessment of the right balance between infection control and safeguarding must inform policy and guidance at all levels and in all areas, including NHS England and legal processes, as well as clear and consistent public messaging.

Last updated on hub: 10 August 2021

Protecting children at a distance: summary of findings from Stage 2: A multi-agency investigation of child safeguarding and protection responses consequent upon COVID-19 lockdown/social distancing measures

King's College London

This study sets out the findings from the second stage of a study designed in response to widespread concerns about the operation of child safeguarding and protection arrangements consequent upon the Covid-19 lockdown and social distancing measures. In light of the challenges to intra- and interagency communication and the impact on joint working of actions taken by individual agencies, the study focuses on the multiagency response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the implications for professional practice and service provision. Stage 2 comprised a national survey of safeguarding leaders and children’s social care, health, police, law, education and mental health services, to explore the evolving concerns and response to the COVID-19 pandemic following the full reopening of schools in September 2020 – 417 responses from data collected from 1st February – 8th March 2021 were 2 analysed. It appears that the pandemic has helped to embed Safeguarding Partnerships arrangements through increased activity and communication in response to the crisis. Broader joint/collaborative working between individual agencies seems to have held up well overall, with many respondents reporting that levels of collaboration had been maintained. One of the biggest impacts on professional practice has been the social distancing measures put in place to control the pandemic, which have significantly reduced the in-person contact between universal/early help/specialist safeguarding practitioners and children/families. The study highlights the different approaches to, and appetite for, face-to-face work, both between and within disciplines in the early stages of the pandemic but it is clear that there are many potential benefits to be gained from remote communication in the operation of statutory meetings, conferences and court hearings, particularly in terms of the efficient use of professionals’ time and in facilitating ‘attendance’ at meetings which might otherwise require significant time taken up in travelling. Coordinated cross-government attention and investment is needed to address the complexity of inter- and multi-agency information sharing, assessment and service delivery to safeguard children and young people.

Last updated on hub: 10 August 2021

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 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 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

Responding to the ‘Shadow Pandemic’: practitioner views on the nature of and responses to violence against women in Victoria, Australia during the COVID-19 restrictions

Monash University

This report presents the findings from a survey to capture the voices and experiences of practitioners responding to women experiencing violence during the COVID-19 shutdown in Victoria, Australia. With more people confined to their homes to reduce the community spread of COVID-19, there is a greater risk of violence against women and children. The analysis of practitioner responses to the survey found that the pandemic has led to: an increase in the frequency and severity of violence against women (VAW); an increase in the complexity of women’s needs; for 42 per cent of respondents, an increase in first-time family violence reporting by women; enhanced tactics to achieve social isolation and forms of violence specifically relating to the threat and risk of COVID-19 infection; for many women experiencing violence during the lockdown period, there was less ability to seek help; service innovations have occurred across Victoria to enhance accessibility and effectiveness of service delivery during the COVID-19 easing of restrictions and recovery phase; numerous challenges to providing support, undertaking effective risk assessment and carrying out safety planning during the COVID-19 shutdown phase. The research also draws attention to the wellbeing considerations for practitioners working remotely to support women experiencing violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need to develop worker supports as restrictions are eased and a period of recovery is entered.

Last updated on hub: 24 June 2020

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