COVID-19 Emergency and Safeguarding
The COVID-19 emergency has created unprecedented challenges in effectively safeguarding children and promoting their welfare. Given the current circumstances it is now highly likely that there will be a prolonged period where children’s school attendance will be significantly reduced and most children and young people will continue to remain invisible to professionals. This concern is further exacerbated by a low take-up of the eligible vulnerable cohort of children not taking up the offer of attending school.
Haringey Children Social Care has therefore agreed on an initiative with the help and support from the Safeguarding partners to work with these vulnerable group of children due to the COVID-19 crisis. This will require a unique and joined up response as most of these children will fall outside the statutory duty of safeguarding.
MASH team has been identified as being best placed to be the single point of contact for this cohort, holding all the necessary information so a coordinated response can be provided.
- What is the definition of vulnerable children?
Haringey will use the guidance provided by the Department of Education to define this vulnerable cohort of children in addition to children who most need support at this time.
This group will mainly fall under the Early Help threshold in line with Haringey’s EH threshold document as follows:
Early Help is intervening as early as possible when risk / problems are identified within a family and positively encircling the family with the right support in order to reduce the presenting concerns i.e.
- Help in the early years of a child or young person’s life (including prenatal interventions)
- Anticipating where need may arise in priority groups, often by building an understanding of the wider family and community influences
- Providing early response services at the right time to meet family’s needs and to support to resolve emerging issues and problems
Early Help allows for the right support to be put in place at the right time and is committed to developing and promoting resilience within families.
Young people up to the age of 25 with education, health and care (EHC) plans will also come under this vulnerable cohort??
In order to help this vulnerable cohort a decision has been made to create a COVID-19 response team who will be specifically tasked to support this work. This team will be part of Early Help and embedded in MASH. The COVID 19 response team will focus on the following areas:
- work with schools and other partners to help identify the children who are most vulnerable and need support at this time;
- respond and put in support in relation to isolation, crisis and hardship;
- increase visibility by checking on the welfare of a vulnerable children / families;
- allow parents and children who are worried and anxious about keeping themselves and their children safe due to the virus to talk to a professional.
- Supporting parents and carers to identify early signs of emotional trauma on their children due to the current exposure of various challenging information available on social media as well as on the television.
- COVID-19 Pathway
A new pathway has been developed as follows:
The MASH team will continue to accept referrals through the usual email address firstname.lastname@example.org. Professionals should complete the multi-agency referral form and give as much information as they can.
The MASH team are also happy to accept and support professionals on making telephone referrals on 020 8489 4533, as there will be difficulties caused by remote working and limited access to recording systems.
MASH will also accept telephone referrals from the public if they are concerned about a child or a family affected as a result of Covid- 19 situation.
The MASH team is open Monday to Thursday from 8.45am to 5.00pm and Friday from 8.45am to 4.45pm.
The contact will be initially reviewed by the duty MASH team manager with information known to Children Social Care to assess the risk level and make the best decision of need. The contact will then be progressed to the COVID-19 response team.
- COVID-19 Referral / Screening
The screening will be allocated to specially trained workers to have conversations with parents and the professional network in order to see how best to support the family.
On completion of the screening and recommendation of need, the COVID-19 manager will authorise one of the following outcomes:
- no further action
- further follow up is required. For example, in order to check on a family who may be in isolation or in financial difficulties
- allocate a family support worker from Early Help
- signpost to partnership with a clear plan to support the family
- step up to Social Care where further information gained identifies concerns that meet a statutory level of need
- Measuring Impact
There will be weekly feedback session between Covid -19 team and the MASH. This will help us understand the themes as well as how our intervention is having an impact on the children and their families.
In addition, a performance report will be produced weekly to understand impact and service delivery. This in part acknowledges that the current situation is likely to change quickly and we therefore need to adjust and respond in a similar manner. This will also enable further reporting to external agencies and other appropriate forums.