To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what guidance the Government has issued to ensure that children who are experiencing domestic abuse but who have not reached a statutory threshold for intervention are visible to children’s social care services.
22 July 2020
We are working closely with the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, domestic abuse organisations, the police and the Department for Education to ensure that children affected by domestic abuse receive the support they need.
The police continue to attend incidents of domestic abuse and refer to children’s social care where they think necessary. Existing safeguarding advice continues to be applicable at this time. Any front line responder or public sector worker having concerns about a child with whom they come into contact should make a safeguarding referral to social services in the normal way for appropriate action.
We know that, for many vulnerable children, being in education is a protective factor from harm. We have therefore asked schools to remain open for children who are vulnerable, as well as for those children of workers critical to the COVID-19 response who absolutely need to attend. Vulnerable children includes those with a social worker, who have an education health and care (EHC) plan and who have been assessed as being otherwise vulnerable by educational providers or local authorities and who could therefore benefit from continued attendance. This might include children on the edge of receiving support from children’s social services or those living in temporary accommodation.
The Department for Education has also issued guidance?which is clear that schools and colleges should revise their child protection policies to reflect what arrangements are in place to keep children who are not physically attending the school or college, safe. This guidance is clear that all staff who interact with children, including online, should continue to look out for signs a child may be at risk and that where appropriate referrals should still be made to children’s social care, and as required, to the police.
The Government has provided additional funding for Operation Encompass which facilitates liaison on domestic abuse issues affecting children between police forces and schools. This is in addition to the £3.1m recently announced by the Home Office for the provision of specialist services for children affected by domestic abuse.
The Government has also made £1.6m of funding available immediately for the NSPCC to expand and promote its national helpline for adults. Expanding the helpline will mean that many more adults know how and where to raise concerns and seek advice or support about the safety and well-being of any children they are worried about. This is in addition to the £7m of funding for See, Hear, Respond, a new service which will provide targeted help to vulnerable children, young people and their families affected by COVID-19 and the measures put in place to stop its spread. The partnership of charities, led by Barnardo’s, will work alongside local authorities, schools and colleges, police forces, healthcare professionals and other vital services involved in protecting these children.
The landmark Domestic Abuse Bill, has now passed third reading, will help to better protect and support victims of domestic abuse and their children across the country.