Ensure you are ready when schools reopen in September

COVID-19 generated concern for social workers and multi-agency colleagues regarding the lack of visibility of the children we were working with and concerns about how the pressures of lockdown, furlough, and job losses would impact on children, their families and how these issues would lead to increased concerns about children’s safety.

How we reacted to COVID-19

We found ways of communicating with children using social media apps. We sat in gardens and undertook socially distanced home visits. We attended court hearings by phone and using video conferencing.

There was increased anxiety about catching the virus when on home visits that we couldn’t do virtually. We supplied the social workers with PPE and supported them to keep in touch with children every two weeks rather than the standard every four weeks.

Our social workers embraced “the new normal”. We have pioneered remote working, so we were well placed to adding social media apps to our social work kit bag, but all social workers reported an increased level of alertness and worry about the children they are working with.

The team continued to be supported by the team manager and Head of Service via regular Skype team meetings and individual remote supervision sessions.

Addressing the potential surge of Children’s Assessments

Though many families have managed to cope with the added challenges of lockdown, many of the children and families’ social workers work with will have struggled and have been placed at increased risk. Thus, it is crucial to continue to provide excellent social work practice linked to high-quality community and mental health support to families affected by the lockdown.

With the schools returning in September many councils are bracing themselves for a rise in child protection referrals as children share their concerns with a trusted school professional. All Local authorities are putting plans in place with some plans being more advanced or robust than others.

A managed service that is put in place in time – to address the surge, is a smart solution. The social workers we hire in Xyla Health and Social Services are thoroughly vetted and highly experienced. The business and management support is robust and adds capacity and value rather than swamping already over stretched internal resources.

We can be on the ground within two or three weeks and are confident to take on the most complicated of cases. We track and report our progress weekly and pride ourselves on our ability to complete high-quality assessments and the planning of solutions to support and intervention.

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