Keeping children in touch with their families during ‘lockdown’ | Professor Beth Neil

a call to action

Restrictions on social contact which are necessary during the current period of “lockdown” are having a huge impact on the links children in care can maintain with members of their birth family. Early feedback from a rapid response research study, funded by the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory, and carried out by Beth Neil and Ruth Copson at the University of East Anglia, is suggesting that the need to find new and creative ways of keeping children in touch with their families is bringing some positive benefits. For example, some young people are comfortable with digital technology and find this method of connecting with parents or siblings quite engaging.

Some people have have also said that the issues are somewhat different for children in temporary care, than for those who are settled long-term with foster carers, kinship carers or in residential homes. So e.g. for babies and young children in the midst of care proceedings, or children about to go home, there might be quite serious consequences of all direct contact with parents being shut down right now. Beth and colleagues are therefore particularly keen to find out what is happening for such children, and they think that IROs may well be the people who can tell them about this (as well as about what happening for other children).

Our call is therefore is for IROs and IRO Managers to please make time to complete this important survey by 22nd April. More details below.

Sharon Martin, chair of the National IRO Managers Partnership

guest post: Keeping children in touch with their families during ‘lockdown’

Restrictions on social contact which are necessary during the current period of “lockdown” are having a huge impact on the links children in care can maintain with members of their birth family. Many local authorities, fostering agencies and residential care services are turning to digital forms of contact such as video calling to help children stay in touch with their families. Others are using phone calls, cards or letters. Early feedback from a rapid response research study, funded by the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory, and carried out by Beth Neil and Ruth Copson at the University of East Anglia, is suggesting that the need to find new and creative ways of keeping children in touch with their families is bringing some positive benefits. For example, some young people are comfortable with digital technology and find this method of connecting with parents or siblings quite engaging.

But with the lockdown set to continue for another three weeks, there are important questions about what impact the lack of direct contact may have on parent-child relationships, particularly for very young children who may be unable to engage with digital media, for children who have recently entered care, and for those who may have been preparing to return home. The research team is collecting feedback from a range of people affected by these issues: professionals, parents, foster carers, kinship carers, and adoptive parents. Given the key role of Independent Reviewing Officers in overseeing children’s’ care plans, the team would really like to hear more from IROs about how the current changes are affecting looked after children. There is a short online survey that can be accessed from the link below where you can add as much or as little information as you have time to share. The survey will be open for just a few more days (until the end of Wednesday 22 April).

Please consider contributing if you can: https://ueapsych.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cuveYvQ4bpzct01

Beth and colleagues are also carrying out short interviews (about 30 minutes), so if you are able to contribute please submit your contact details via this form:

COMMENTS can be added here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.