During the Coronavirus crisis we remain more committed than ever to supporting the children and families who find it hard to have their needs met.
We will be advocating for them during these most difficult of circumstances by encouraging our partners in the public and voluntary sectors to prioritise their needs and to keep them safe and by providing evidence-based advice and information to practitioners, commissioners and decision makers.
While inevitably we have had to postpone events and training and cancel face-to-face meetings, we are actively exploring other ways of continuing our services, including the important role we play in convening and partnering with other organisations.
Here are some of the ways in which the NCB family is responding to the Coronavirus crisis.
NCB is supporting the Government’s national response during this time of crisis, and we are proactively and constructively working with policymakers to highlight where there are gaps, unmet needs and particular risks.
- We have joined a coalition of children’s charities to highlight how Coronavirus has put more children at risk, put further pressure on already over stretched children’s services, and presented particular challenges to young people's mental health and wellbeing.
- As a leading member of the End Child Poverty campaign we have highlighted how the current crisis is likely to further impoverish the 4.2m children growing up in poverty.
- We have joined with the Child Poverty Action group to call for an immediate £10-per-week increase in Child Benefit to help families facing financial hardship as a result of the crisis.
Supporting children and young people with SEND and their families
- The Council for Disabled Children is working closely with government in its role as Strategic Reform Partner, providing expert advice and developing guidance and practical tools to support the sector.
- We created a hub for resources and guidance about coronavirus for parent carers, children & young people and education, health and social care practitioners. If you have any resources you’d like us to share on the hub email: CDCresources@ncb.org.uk
- Our ‘Coronavirus and SEND FAQs newsflash’ is published every Friday and is shared with officials at the Department for Education. It answers questions on how Coronavirus will impact on children and young people with SEND as well as other questions relating to the impact on families; the education, health and social care sectors; and the voluntary and community sector. Email your questions to CDCquestions@ncb.org.uk and sign-up to receive the Newsflash here.
Supporting bereaved children
COVID-19 is posing a enormous challenge to bereaved children and those supporting them – both those bereaved through the virus and those bereaved by other causes. Social distancing means that it is harder for grieving families and friends to support each other and to gather to say goodbye. Schools are closed, and existing bereavement support services cannot deliver their face to face support in the usual way. At the same time, more children are expected to be bereaved during the pandemic. In response, the Childhood Bereavement Network has developed:
- Free resources for bereaved children and young people.
- Guidance for parents and young people on keeping in touch with someone seriously ill who can’t be visited.
- Guidance on supporting grieving children during the outbreak
- A hub providing Information for those running bereavement services
- Regular webinars, in conjunction with the National Bereavement Alliance, attended by hundreds of practitioners, on different aspects of the response to Coronavirus (register here).
- Updating guidance on the 'Plan if...' website.
In addition CBN is working with policymakers to:
- Represent bereaved children and their families’ needs in regular discussions with officials across government departments, on topics such as funerals, public information on bereavement, access to bereavement services, inquests and access to bereavement benefits
- Advise on the development of specialist national support services
- Advocate for secure funding for bereavement services to respond to bereaved families in the months and years to come.
Supporting vulnerable children
Experts within NCB are shedding light on the challenges facing groups of children and young people who are vulnerable in particular ways, through our regular ‘Coronavirus spotlights’. These include considerations of:
- Vulnerable children
- Children relying on local SEND support services
- Bereaved children and young people
- Making the most of family time during lockdown
- What is infant mental health and why does it matter so much during COVID-19?
Supporting children and young people to have their voices heard
NCB wants to involve children and young people directly in our response to the COVID-19 crisis.
- Members of the Young NCB and our FLARE group of young disabled people collaborate with us closely across the breadth of our work and we publish their blogs, articles and thought pieces highlighting their views and experiences relating to the Coronavirus epidemic.
- Young NCB have contributed their thoughts and ideas about the impact of financial insecurity on children and young people during the crisis.
Supporting children in the early years
- On behalf of the Department for Education, NCB continues to provide all early years professionals with the latest information and resources through the Foundation Years newsletter and website. This includes regular Covid-19 updates with the latest Government guidance and advice.
- As as part of the First 1001 Days Movement we have called on national and local decision makers to give urgent attention to the wellbeing of babies, toddlers and their parents during the COVID-19 crisis.
- The Lambeth Early Action Partnership has adapted a number of its services to offer support remotely to families in four wards in Lambeth during the Coronavirus crisis. This includes breastfeeding peer support, family nutrition, safer families (domestic violence), advice on overcrowded housing, and parent infant relationships guidance.
- Our Making it REAL early literacy programme is adapting the way it supports practitioners and parents to create a rich home-learning environment. Instead of home visits in person, we are providing printed resources to families which are then followed up by a phonecall or video conference between a Making it REAL practitioner and the family, to make sure they are doing everything they can to support early literacy development.
Supporting wellbeing and mental health
The Schools Wellbeing Partnership remains focused on supporting the emotional wellbeing of children at this challenging time, including by:
- Working with others in the mental health sector to coordinate and disseminate resources.
- Supporting the Department for Education to understand the gaps in mental health and wellbeing support.
- Coordinating a Wellbeing Schools Forum - an online space for school staff and other practitioners who work in education settings for peer support, policy updates and to share best practice around improving pupil wellbeing.