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Social Services: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Education

UIN 67766, tabled on 1 July 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on children in social care in (a) Birmingham, Hall Green constituency and (b) the UK.

Answered on

10 July 2020

Ensuring that vulnerable children remain protected is a top priority for the government. The COVID-19 outbreak represents a time of severe pressure across society, which we know presents heightened levels of risk for some children, especially those known to social care.

We have been working closely with local authorities, including Birmingham, to assess the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on vulnerable children and ensure that children are being adequately protected.

Our Regional Education and Care Team (REACT) for the West Midlands is in contact with Birmingham Children’s Trust and Birmingham Council on a regular basis, to understand how they are supporting vulnerable children to attend school and ensure their systems and processes for maintaining contact with vulnerable children are robust. We also collect fortnightly data from local authorities across the country, including Birmingham, around their contact with vulnerable children, workforce availability and other system pressures in order to offer support and challenge where needed.

The government has provided £3.7 billion of additional funding to support local authorities in meeting COVID-19 related pressures, including for looked after children and wider children’s services.

We are continuing to intervene with local authorities that have been found to be failing in their delivery of children’s services and judged inadequate by Ofsted. It remains an absolute priority for the government that children are kept safe. Where they are in place, we have also asked commissioners and advisers to support local authorities, for example, by helping them to manage conflicting priorities and reviewing their contingency plans to ensure they are robust.

Our guidance on supporting vulnerable children and young people during the COVID-19 outbreak can be found at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-childrens-social-care-services.