Agenda item

Impact of Covid-19.


The Committee received a report of the Director of Children and Family Services on the Impact of Covid-19 with an overview of how the pandemic had and continued to impact key aspects of service delivery across the Children and Family Services Department. A copy of the report marked ‘Agenda Item 11’ is filed with these minutes.


Arising from the discussion, the following points were raised:


      i.         In response to a question regarding the long lasting effects of Covid-19,
members noted that the pandemic had posed unprecedented pressures and challenges upon the Department and the children and families it supported.  Despite this, all services had continued to operate throughout the period with processes having been quickly adapted to reflect the changing circumstances, guidance and restrictions imposed nationally and locally.  The Director reported that the Department had learnt a number of key lessons including the use of technology to enable remote working, the ability to work virtually with families, and improved engagement with young people, parents and carers. The Department would aim to continue to develop services whilst recovering from the effects of Covid-19 recognising that the experience had given rise to some opportunities and improvements for future working practices.


     ii.         Members were concerned to note the increase in the number of children representing with more complex needs and the number of older young people coming into care as families struggled to cope and relationships broke down. 


    iii.         The Department had compared the most recent performance data to that from before the pandemic. Members noted that whilst the number of children requiring support had not increased, there had been an increase in the number of children of all ages presenting with more complex challenges. There had also been an increase in the number of requests for older children to move into social care. It was understood that this had largely been due to challenging relationships at home during periods of lockdown, as well as complex mental health needs. It was recognised that during the pandemic, access to health services and schools had been reduced and also had an effect. The position was being monitored by the Department and its partners.


   iv.         There had been difficulties in recruiting foster carers during periods of Covid-19 restrictions. However, members were pleased to note that this had improved in the three months leading up to this report. In response to a question raised, Members noted that there had been no evidence to suggest that the Homes for Ukrainian Refugees scheme had contributed to a decline in applications from potential foster carers. Initial conversations would always be had with members of the public interested in foster caring to ensure this was the best option for them. If not, they would be signposted to another service if another option was deemed to be more appropriate.


     v.         Members raised concerns about the number of children with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan who had been adversely affected through discontinuity of support during the pandemic. Members were reassured that the Department had been working with health colleagues to address this as a key priority.  Members noted that a quality assurance framework within the EHC process had been introduced and discussions had taken place within parent and carer forums to ensure that the holistic needs of children were being met and captured in EHC plans or through education settings. 


   vi.         In response to a questions regarding what would be done to address the widening gap in attainment between disadvantaged and other children in education, Members noted that the Leicestershire Education Excellence Partnership (LEEP) had engaged with schools, the early years sector and government throughout the pandemic to implement priority actions on addressing disadvantage and inequality of opportunity.  The Director confirmed that schools were working hard to identify the impact of Covid on each child and offer programmes such as targeted classes, as appropriate, to increase attainment and address specific learning requirements. Supporting the most vulnerable learners and continuing to deliver education and learning interventions to narrow identified gaps in attainment arising from Covid would remain a focus for the Department and schools for some time.


The Director expressed their thanks to all staff within the Department for continuing to deliver services during what had been a very difficult time. They also recognised the strength and resilience of children during the pandemic. The Committee thanked officers for all their hard work throughout the pandemic.





(a)  That the overview of how COVID-19 had impacted and continued to impact key aspects of service delivery across the Children and Family Services Department be noted.


(b)  That the Committee’s thanks be passed on to officers within the Department for all their hard work throughout the pandemic.

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