COVID-19 Guidance from WillisPalmer

Whilst the outbreak of Covid-19 is likely to cause some disruption to WillisPalmer services in the short-term, we are issuing guidance outlining our plans to minimise the impact of the virus.

Read more
Make an Enquiry

Blog: Further evidence emerges of massive hike in child protection referrals in autumn

By Mark Willis, Chief Executive of WillisPalmer

It comes as no surprise that a report into how local authorities have coped with COVID-19 has revealed that respondents are concerned about a massive spike in referrals once children return to school .

WillisPalmer has been warning for months about the detrimental effect that a lengthy lockdown period could have on vulnerable children and families.

Families cooped up in isolation with concerns about finances, mental and physical health, tensions rising culminating in substance and domestic abuse. Children may also have been incarcerated at home with abusers, neglected and subjected to emotional, physical and even sexual abuse for months, hidden from professionals.

Not only that, the children’s commissioner for England has raised concerns about vulnerable children during lockdown.

Furthermore, a coalition of charities warned of children’s services’ ability to cope post lockdown, with the Association of Directors of Children’s Services themselves saying that following years of cuts and austerity measures, they will struggle to meet demand post lockdown.

The latest research by King’s College London on the experiences of children’s social care in 15 English local authorities managing during COVID-19 found, said: “In all the feedback from authorities there was a note of caution about a future when the extent of harm to many children would be revealed after many months when it had been hidden. It was expected that the number of referrals would rise rapidly once schools reopened.”

The research comes after the director of the largest children’s services department in England Matt Dunkley, director at Kent Council, warned that he expects a 250% rise in referrals to children’s services departments once children return to school which, at present, is planned for September.

This month, a frontline social worker in a referral and assessment team told us that referrals had started to “creep up,” despite many children still not back at school at that point. The majority of referrals were, unsurprisingly, related to domestic abuse following referrals from the police.

She anticipated a surge in referrals as the schools broke up for summer holidays from teachers concerned about any child’s wellbeing and the potential for them being at home for six weeks ‘hidden’ from teachers and professionals. Yet, she also anticipated the major rise in referrals would come as children return to school and signs of abuse are picked up or disclosures made.

Mark Willis, Chief Executive of WillisPalmer, said: “It is of grave concern that lockdown will have had such a detrimental impact on many vulnerable families. By September, when children are expected to return to school, many children will have been ‘hidden’ from professionals for six months.”

“Lockdown has been challenging for most families at times. But throw into the mix mental health problems, financial worries, no social interaction, substance abuse and domestic abuse and problems escalate very quickly,” he added.

“Some children will undoubtedly have spent months in lockdown neglected or watching or experiencing abuse and under those circumstances the impact on their health and wellbeing is likely to be significant.”

“I really hope the government understand that children’s services across the country are going to need extra resources to manage the increased workloads in the coming months. If not then vulnerable children will be at continued risk of harm,” concluded Mark Willis.

Make an enquiry

A multi-disciplinary organisation providing independent, high quality social work and psychological services. Contact us with your requirements and speak to a member of our team who will help you today.
Make an Enquiry

Knowledge & Resources

Keep abreast of the latest news in the children's services sector.

Deprivation of liberty orders triple for children in care


Deprivation of liberty orders placed on children in care have tripled in the last two years, an investigation by BBC News has revealed.

The investigation showed that deprivation of liberty orders are increasingly being used to detain children in homes when suitable accommodation cannot be found.

Director of children’s rights charity Article 39 Carolyne Willow slammed the [...]

Read Full Story

Schools should be the last place to be locked down in any future outbreaks, says commissioner


Schools should be the last places to be locked down if any local or national lockdown takes place, the children’s commissioner for England has warned.

Anne Longfield argues that if any lockdown takes place, schools should be the last places to be locked down, after pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops.

She says that given what it known [...]

Read Full Story

Majority of local authorities struggle to recruit experienced social workers


Just two per cent of local authorities in England find it easy to recruit experienced social workers, Department for Education research has found.

The fifth wave of the DfE Children’s Services Omnibus Survey, which looks at senior local authority and Children’s Services Trust’s leaders’ perceptions on, and activities relating to, a range of policy areas, found [...]

Read Full Story
Children First is an online resource for professionals working with children presented by WillisPalmer, providing you with the latest news, features and interviews.
Subscribe Today
Delivering a diverse, reliable range of services to children and their families across the UK
D1, Parkside, Knowledge Gateway, Nesfield Road, Colchester, Essex CO4 3ZL
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram