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Welcome

Since our September newsletter, we have been working hard behind the scenes to conduct a range of thematic analyses to get learning out into the system quickly. In this newsletter, we are pleased to share insights into Rapid Reviews relating to serious child safeguarding incidents reported to the Panel since the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak between March and September 2020.

A Practice Briefing has been embedded in this newsletter to support leaders and practitioners as you continue to respond to the challenged presented by COVID-19. As we plan for a programme of webinars in the New Year, we have also embedded a link to register your interest for a 1-hour webinar, which will provide you with the opportunity to share information and ask questions about safeguarding vulnerable children in the context of recovery from COVID-19.

In This Issue

  • COVID-19 Analysis
  • Register for our webinar about safeguarding practice during COVID-19
  • Panel Updates
    • Appointment of the new Chair of the Panel
    • Request for completed Local Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews
    • Roundtables for the review into Non-Accidental Injury in Under 1s
  • Stakeholder News
  • Have Your Say
    • Feedback on our first practice briefing
    • Share your informal news, learning or good practice
COVID-19 Analysis

As we emerge from the second national lockdown, we know that safeguarding partners and frontline practitioners are once again working hard to support vulnerable children and families over the winter period. A number of agencies have highlighted learning for practitioners to help them meet this extraordinary challenge, and we have been delighted by the range of resources and interactive learning events available online.

To contribute to this wealth of evidence, we commissioned a thematic analysis of Rapid Reviews relating to serious child safeguarding incidents reported to the Panel during the period of the initial COVID-19 outbreak between March and September 2020. The aim of this work was to:

  • review other published commentary on the impact of COVID-19 on children’s wellbeing to inform the identification of themes or patterns in practice;
  • identify patterns in practice in cases notified;
  • consider the potential impact of school closures or other service restrictions during the period of COVID lockdown;
  • identify lessons for national or local government should there be a further period of lockdown restrictions.

By auditing 44 Rapid Reviews where COVID-19 was cited as a factor against a control group of 40 Rapid Reviews which did not mention COVID-19, we have drawn out some key findings to help protect vulnerable children.

Practitioner working
  • There were good examples of partnerships taking the learning from Rapid Reviews to make swift and immediate changes in COVID-19 protocols for practitioners. For example, local authorities, working with Safeguarding Partners, established clear frameworks for risk assessment, identifying and sharing information about vulnerable children.
  • Rapid Reviews highlighted examples of the effective use of ‘virtual home visits’ by video link. Where these worked well, practitioners were able to observe children, adult-child interaction, assess the home environment, and use focused questions to assess changing risk and need.
Parental and family stressors
  • These featured across the full range of cases involving COVID-19. For example, increasing domestic violence and mental health concerns were key features across the rapid reviews.
  • The lack of contact with extended family members during lockdown meant the loss of a key protective factor in some cases. In other cases, family dynamics changed where a new partner joined the household to avoid lockdown contact restrictions. Reviews highlighted pressures and tensions as a result of disrupted routines and overcrowding.
  • COVID-19 factors were most significant in cases involving non-accidental injury, SUDI, suicide, and children with disabilities.
Harm to babies under 12 months old
  • Babies under 12 months old continue to be the most prevalent group notified, and there were a high proportion of cases involving non-accidental injury and sudden unexpected infant death. In these cases, parental and family stressors were the most significant factors in escalating risk.
  • In a number of cases, face-to-face visits from professionals had been replaced with telephone or video contact. From our analysis, it is clear that families with new-borns during lockdown should have at least one face-to-face visit from a midwife and health visitor.
School closures
  • There were some good examples where schools had maintained contact, promoted study support and other activities, and adapted their approach in line with evolving national guidance and expectations.
  • However, some vulnerable children who were entitled to attend school were kept at home by parents fearing risk of COVID-19 infection. This meant children lost structure and routine where parents’ capacity to provide home schooling was limited.
  • Our analysis suggests that in any future lockdown period, it is essential that schools remain open for all children, with clear messaging for parents about COVID-safe learning environments, and expectations of normal attendance.

As we move into 2021, we are all uncertain what the future holds. However, what we do know is that we need to learn the lessons from the previous national lockdowns and prepare for the impact of COVID-19 to be long-lasting.

Therefore, we have attached a practice briefing to this newsletter, which contains a summary of the findings from the cases reviewed, evidence from research and published commentary about the impact of COVID-19 on children and families, and hypothetical case studies. This briefing is the first of its kind undertaken by the Panel and we would appreciate your feedback on the content and format to ensure we are disseminating the highest-quality learning into the system as quickly as possible.

We have shared the full analysis with Ministers across the three statutory safeguarding partners, and are following up on this with meetings with the Children’s Minister to ensure the lessons learned through the system of reviews are taken into account in any future decision making over vulnerable children in the context of COVID-19.

Register for our next webinar
 

Our second webinar will be held on 28 January 2021, 12.00 – 13.00 to discuss the COVID-19 Practice Briefing, giving you a chance to share information, ask questions and get to the heart of the findings.

Click this link to register.

You will be sent joining instructions, a full agenda and questions for consideration in January 2021.


Panel Updates
Annie Hudson has been appointed as the new Chair of the Panel

The Secretary of State for Education has announced the appointment of Annie Hudson as the new Chair of the independent national Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel.

Formerly Director of Children's Services at both Lambeth London Borough Council and Bristol City Council, Ms Hudson is an experienced children’s services leader. She also comes with a wealth of experience on several national boards, including as a member of the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care advisory board.

We thank Karen Manners QPM for her tenure as interim chair of the Panel and she will continue to remain on the Panel.
Urgent request for completed Local Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews (LCSPRs) and Rapid Reviews (RRs)

We are in the process of commissioning an Annual Review of Local Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews (LCSPRs) and Rapid Reviews (RRs).

As part of this research, we need to provide the appointed research team with copies of all LCSPRs that have either been published or completed in the period up to the 31 January 2021. The researchers will apply sensitive data handling procedures for all LCSPRs provided to them which have not yet been published.

If an LCSPR has been completed or will complete in the period up to 31 January can you please send a copy to the Panel mailbox mailbox.nationalreviewpanel@education.gov.uk (irrespective of whether a decision has been made to publish or not) so it can be included in the research.

Stakeholder roundtables for our national thematic review into non-accidental injury

In November, we brought together a range of stakeholders for a series of virtual roundtables to discuss the emerging findings from the fieldwork for our third national review into non-accidental injury in under 1s.

This represented the first of three key elements in this review and will be added to the literature review along with the interviews we are conducting with men found guilty of abuse to form the draft final review. Key themes identified thus far include problems with information sharing, men being un-assessed or unengaged in the work and links to domestic abuse.

We have met with all those areas who were part of the fieldwork as well as representatives from across the multiagency landscape attended, including the Early Intervention Foundation, Family Nurse Partnership, Royal College of Midwives, National Police Chief’s Council and more to discuss these issues and contribute to the review. The full report will be published next year.


Stakeholder News

We’ve rounded up a few resources from our stakeholders, including some of the research papers used to inform our COVID-19 analysis:

  • The Early Intervention Foundation published a report into the evidence, challenges and risks relating to virtual and digital delivery during COVID-19.
  • The University of Birmingham published a research briefing about the disruption and renewal of social work and child protection during COVID-19
  • The British Medical Journal published a paper on the effect of COVID-19 lockdown on child protection medical assessments
  • The Youth Endowment fund published an Insights Brief into engaging young people during the pandemic.

Safeguarding Partners in Birmingham have launched the ‘Who’s In Charge’ campaign, about the impact of alcohol and substances on parental capacity to ensure the safe care and sleeping arrangements for very young infants. It is illustrated by five short films and useful information. The campaign was spearheaded by the Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and has been informed by a number of serious incidents over recent years as well as the Panel’s national research.

Have Your Say
 
If you have any feedback on this newsletter, please don’t hesitate to email us at Mailbox.NationalReviewPanel@education.gov.uk.
 
Your colleagues can sign up to our newsletter online here: http://eepurl.com/g6z_Tf

We’ve also created a short survey so you can immediately let us know your thoughts on our first practice briefing paper. Click this link with five questions that can be answered in less than 5 minutes.

Do you have any information you would like to cascade to safeguarding partnerships through future versions of this newsletter?

If you have informal news or examples of effective practice to share, which you think will help other areas improve their safeguarding practice, please contact us at amina.makele@education.gov.uk

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Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel · Sanctuary Buildings · Great Smith Street · London, London SW1P 3BT · United Kingdom

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