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Advice for single parents


For many single parents, the thought of becoming unwell with coronavirus (COVID-19) while having children to protect and care for is a very real worry. However, while you cannot change your situation, there are avenues of support that you can access if you do become unwell.

Local support networks

Using your local network is essential. In the first instance, you may have family and friends who would be able to support with childcare and access to essential supplies such as shopping. By the same token, you might have a friend who is in a similar situation and so would understand your concerns; if this is the case, you could agree to team up so that if one of you becomes unwell you would support each other with essential elements such as delivering pre-prepared and cooked meals to your door.

If you were to find yourself in this situation where you need urgent support but don’t have any family, friends or neighbours to ask, there are agencies that may be able to help and your local children’s centre could form an essential link for guidance (more information below). We are also aware that some supermarkets are offering a volunteer scheme to support people who are unwell but who do not have the friend and family network to call on at this time. It would be worth seeing in advance which ones offer this service, so that if you become poorly you have already considered these options.

If you don’t have access to a network of friends, family and community support, and are not receiving support directly from government, local authority or community services, further support and guidance is available in the Devon County Council website.

Children’s centres

Our children’s centres have strong links with foodbanks and other organisations, and we can put you in touch. We are also delivering foodbank parcels to families who are self-isolating.

Action for Children deliver our children’s centre services in Devon. They have a National Emergency Fund Programme to give extra support to families for food, clothing and essential items including white goods – washing machines, fridges and freezers. Action for Children also have a service called TALK, which offers a live chat function with professionals on Monday to Friday.

More information and a full list of children’s centres Facebook pages is available on the Devon County Council website.

Keeping children active and entertained

Thankfully, there are many resources available to support your child to keep learning and developing, even if you do feel quite unwell. For example, BBC Bitesize offer a free daily lesson. There are also ideas on your local children’s centre website for keeping younger children busy.

Our voluntary agencies, such as Homestart, continue to offer support during this time as well. They have a range of support available on their website, including activity pages, a storytime option, as well as many useful contact numbers that cover a whole range of elements including your own mental wellbeing.

You can find further educational support here, and advice on how to keep kids active is also available.

Support for children

Of course, this can be a worrying time for our older children too; seeing mum or dad ill can cause raised anxiety and worry for them as well. Our Devon Public Health Nursing school nurses offer a confidential young person ChatHeath text line to young people aged 11-19, where they can talk completely confidentially with a school nurse about any worries or concerns they may have. The contact number for this is: 07520 631722.

What happens if I need to be taken into hospital?

There is a network of support and systems in place to support you and your child should you become very unwell.

If you have access to a network of family and friend or community support, they can all play a vital role. However, additional support is also available.

If you become seriously ill, your child will be eligible for consideration for a school place as a vulnerable child. However, as the taking up of a place will have to take into account the risk of the child taking the virus into school, this place is not necessarily automatic. The child’s age and vulnerability will also be key considerations.

Our Early Help partnerships are mobilising professional and community resources to help families made more vulnerable through coronavirus (COVID-19).

  • Under normal circumstances we will try to put resource in the home to keep the child in their familiar surrounding, although this may not be possible because of infection risk.
  • Under extreme circumstances – for example, if a single parent admitted to hospital with no family or friends to help – the option would be to temporarily receive a child into care. Usually, this will be done with parental agreement. However, if a parent is too ill to give consent, or if the parent is deliberately or inadvertently putting the child at life threatening risk, then the child will automatically be taken into care.

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