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Children: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL7491, tabled on 28 July 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what information they have collected on the effect of the COVID-19 lockdown on vulnerable children; and how many new referrals have been made to local authority children’s social care services by (1) self-referral, (2) the police, and (3) the NHS, since the start of that lockdown.

Answered on

11 August 2020

The department has undertaken a survey of pupils, parents and young people (including vulnerable young people) to collect their views and experiences during the COVID-19 outbreak. It has also undertaken a survey of school leaders and teachers about the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people.

The department also publishes statistics on attendance in education and early years settings during COVID-19 (https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/attendance-in-education-and-early-years-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/2020-week-29). There are also many other publicly available sources that the department makes use of, including a collated research study on children’s and young people’s views from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (https://www.rcpch.ac.uk/resources/covid-19-research-studies-children-young-peoples-views).

Additionally, a new Vulnerable Children and Young People Survey collects fortnightly data from local authorities in England. It includes data on contact with children supported by children’s social care, workforce, cost and system pressures. The new and temporary report includes the number of referrals to children’s social care and referral source. The department is planning to publish the data in due course.

The department has been working closely with local authorities to assess the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, setting up dedicated regional teams that are in frequent contact. Bringing together expertise from across the department, these teams monitor the challenges that local authorities are facing, including any increases in demand, and can provide support and guidance where appropriate.

Figures on the number of referrals and referral source are published annually in the ‘Characteristics of children in need’ statistical release here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/statistics-children-in-need. The latest published data relates to the period up to 31 March 2019.

The attached table shows the number of referrals to children’s social care services by referral source from the Vulnerable Children and Young People Survey.