The government has confirmed that face to face contact with birth parents for children in care is allowed, and should be enabled whenever it is in the best interests of a child.

The reminder comes as social workers continue to operate a “business as usual” policy, working to normal business hours and remaining fully operational during the pandemic.

The updated guidance also confirms that children who fall ill during the lockdown can return home to their birth parents if that is what the child wishes, and must continue to receive any therapies or support offered while at home.

The update, which came out yesterday, places a much heavier emphasis on social services to ensure that children in care who have orders allowing them to see their birth families are supported, and not prevented from having that contact in full unless there are tangible grounds for varying contact.

The guidance also makes it clear that children’s teams must review any decisions to alter contact orders during the lockdown regularly, and ensure children understand that variations in contact are only temporary.

This is what the revised rules say:

“Face to face contact is still permitted, taking account of the social distancing guidelines, and children should be supported to manage this.”

The document adds:

“We expect that contact between children in care and their birth relatives will continue. It is essential for children and families to remain in touch at this difficult time, and for many children, the consequences of not seeing relatives would be traumatising.

Contact arrangements should therefore be assessed on a case by case basis taking into account a range of factors, including the government’s social distancing guidance and the needs of the child.

Where it may not be possible, or appropriate, for the usual face-to-face contact to happen at this time, keeping in touch will, for the most part, need to take place virtually.

Where face-to-face contact is not possible, we would encourage social workers and other professionals to reassure children that this position is temporary and will be reviewed as soon as it is possible to do so.”

You can access the document here.

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