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Child safety, protection, and safeguarding in the time of COVID-19 in Great Britain: Proposing a conceptual framework
journal contributionposted on 04.08.2020, 16:11 by Diane Levine, Julie Morton, Michelle O'Reilly
Background: Great Britain has the highest coronavirus death rate in Europe. While the pandemic clearly poses a risk to the lives and wellbeing of vulnerable groups, necessary public health measures taken to delay or limit the spread of the virus have led to distinctive challenges for prevention, family support, court processes, placement and alternative care. The pandemic has also come about at a time when statutory changes to partnerships have led to a reduction in the importance of educational professional representation in the new formulation in England and Wales.
Objectives: In this discussion paper, we propose a novel and pragmatic conceptual framework during this challenging time.
Participants: We consulted with 8 education professionals and 4 field-based student social workers.
Setting: Bodies responsible for safeguarding have been working quickly to develop new approaches to fulfilling their responsibilities, for example through online home visits and case conferences. However, some communities have been highlighted as experiencing particular challenges because of the pandemic and its impacts. Protection of vulnerable children is increasingly dependent on individualised - and often pathologising - practice with a lack of emphasis on the importance of the social. Holistic consideration of the child is side-lined.
Results: Our framework comprises two phases: pandemic and aspirational.
Conclusion: The framework illuminates the importance of interconnected sectors and multi-agency working, the need for resilient and adaptable support systems, and the need to promote the importance of children’s rights and voices to be heard above the noise of the pandemic.