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BASW statement on DfE ‘Vulnerable children and young people survey’

Review of the summary of local authority survey in England to help understand the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on children’s social care

BASW England recognises many of the findings in this report from the Department for Education, with the figures mirroring the anecdotal evidence given by over 2,500 members who have taken part in BASW’s ongoing Covid-19 survey.

The key messages from both, this Government report and our own survey highlight a lack of timely guidance for front line social workers from the outset, a reduction in new referrals of children and young people and a sense of isolation for much of our workforce.

The information makes for concerning reading in relation to the health and wellbeing of our children and young people as many of the harms the children we work with are hidden from view.

These stored up harms include domestic violence, parental substance misuse, mental health issues and sexual harm, which have gone to some degree unnoticed due to lockdown leading to a lack of monitoring from professionals, including in schools.

We are therefore expecting a surge in referrals as children return to school and the national lockdown continues to ease.

It is important that the government listens to the messages coming from the social care sector and responds by ensuring there is additional investment in front line social work during the next phase, a possible second wave of Covid-19 and the future recovery.

This should include having more community based social workers such as school-based practitioners across all regions. Having a social worker in every school would be a long-term investment in the futures of our most vulnerable children.

These measure need to be in addition to the existing provisions, rather than a re-designation of existing social workers or funds, not least because we understand that for those professionals workloads have paradoxically risen during the outbreak of Covid-19 in part because of the additional time it takes them to undertake meaningful work with families owing to social distancing precautions.