COVID-19 resources on Safeguarding Children

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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

The PCFSW and Social Work England best practice guide for risk assessment and prioritising children and families' needs during pandemic

Principal Children and Families Social Worker Network

Best practice guidance to support social care practitioners and managers in thinking about ethical, practical, and professional aspects of risk assessments and prioritising needs during coronavirus (Covid 19) pandemic. It draws on research and practice development project, offering evidence-based support for practitioners and managers to help continuity of services. The guidance has been developed by the Principal Children and Families Social Worker (PCFSW) network and Social Work England in response to the current crisis and will be updated in response to the changing circumstances.

Last updated on hub: 11 May 2020

The PCFSW and Social Work England best practice guide for video call/contact and virtual/online home visit

Principal Children and Families Social Worker Network

Best practice guidance to support social work and social care practitioners and managers in thinking about ethical, practical, and professional aspects of video call/contact and virtual/online home visits. It includes information on: planning a call, ensuring appropriate boundaries and specific points for home visits and online child protection conferences. The guidance was developed by the Principal Children and Families Social Worker (PCFSW) Network and Social Work England and has been informed by practitioners and managers. It has been developed in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic and the period of transition out of the current lockdown and will be updated in response to changing circumstances.

Last updated on hub: 11 May 2020

The PCFSW best practice guide for risk assessment and prioritising children and families' needs during pandemic

Principal Children and Families Social Worker Network

Drawing on research from the Principal Children and Families Social Worker (PCFSW) Network and feedback from local authorities, this guide will support social workers and local authorities in assessing and prioritising needs and risks of vulnerable children and families in the context of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It offers evidence-based support for practitioners and managers to help continuity of services and should be considered alongside the local authority's guidance to ensure continued support and safeguarding of vulnerable children and young people and their families and carers. The document can be used to support individual reflection, in supervision or in virtual group discussions to support reflection for and after action.

Last updated on hub: 06 April 2020

The youth justice system’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic: literature review

Alliance for Youth Justice

This literature review has been produced to map and draw together the available literature to capture and analyse the significant impacts of COVID-19 on the youth justice system. The review aims to document this exceptional period for youth justice, exploring the policy and practice responses, and the available evidence about the impacts on children. The review finds that the devastating impact of the pandemic on children and families, and the heightened levels of safeguarding concerns, are major concerns for children involved with the youth justice system as well as those in the general population facing new and increased challenges. The literature identifies a consistent theme about the lack of information, understanding and focus on children during the pandemic. Throughout the various stages of the youth justice system, digital models of communication and service provision have been adapted – a clear ‘digital divide’ has emerged between those who have access to digital technologies and those who do not. From decisions to arrest, divert or prosecute children in the community, to remand and sentencing, there was a clear need identified to work to reduce the number of children passing through a system that is struggling to cope. The full impacts of delays on the courts and broader criminal justice system in the longer-term are yet to be fully understood but should be seen in the context of a system already under severe strain. Custody numbers fell overall, but the proportion of children on remand has increased. The majority of children in penal establishments have been subjected to awful conditions for months on end, deprived of education, visits and contact, and amounting to solitary confinement. The harms experienced by children in custody, and the impacts on their longer-term health and wellbeing must be fully assessed and supported effectively.

Last updated on hub: 27 July 2021

Voices during the Covid-19 pandemic: the impact on children, young people and child helplines around the world

Child Helpline International

This report aims to understand the impact the pandemic has had, not only on the children and young people who contact child helplines, but also on the child helplines’ operations. We undertook four quarterly surveys of the members of Child Helpline International covering the whole year (January to December 2020). This report presents our findings, the conclusions that can be drawn from these findings, and key recommendations to ensure that child helplines can continue their vital work. These special surveys revealed that, globally, our child helpline members received 25% more contacts in 2020 as compared to 2019. Violence and mental health were important reasons for contact globally in 2020, as they already were in 2019. However, in 2020 requests for information about Covid-19, and contacts relating to family relationships, access to essential services and the caller’s own physical health emerged as the other main reasons for making contact. The child helplines who participated in this research also reported that their operations had been noticeably impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. This impact related both to an increased demand from children and young people and to the various national restriction measures put in place in response to the pandemic. Most importantly, the vast majority of child helplines proved to be extremely resilient and they were able to continue their operations. 94% of the respondents indicated that they remained operational.

Last updated on hub: 09 June 2021

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

'We're here to protect and empower people with the odds stacked against them. Over video, it's hard'

Community Care

An adults' learning disabilities social worker, a child exploitation specialist and a children with disabilities team manager share their perspectives on social work during lockdown in the coronavirus pandemic

Last updated on hub: 08 June 2020

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