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Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice

We understand that families in Devon are concerned about coronavirus (COVID-19). All our partners are working hard to ensure people are kept safe and well during this difficult time, and continue to get the right support, at the right time and in the right place.

We’ve pulled together a list of useful information, advice and guidance from a range of online sources that you might find useful.

To help you find what you need, we’ve split them up into sections.

Please note, we are continuing to update this page as new guidance becomes available, so be sure to check back regularly to ensure you have the latest information. And if you spot that something’s missing or have any other feedback, please let us know via email.


For further guidance on coronavirus and the latest information on the situation in Devon, visit Devon County Council’s coronavirus (COVID-19) advice page. For more advice on how to stay healthy and active, visit NHS Devon. Or for guidance on keeping safe and new police powers, visit Devon and Cornwall Police’s coronavirus page.

Partners and providers should be aware of the new legislation that will temporarily affect the statutory obligations of children’s social care services across the country. Details of our response are available on the Devon County Council website.


Life chances

Schools

A range of useful information and resources about the return to school in September is available here.

Devon County Council’s coronavirus (COVID-19) advice page for schools and education has further details about schools and other educational settings.

Additionally, Babcock have lots of useful guidance and support for schools, parents and pupils available on their website.

Other educational support

The Department for Education has published a list of online resources for schools and parents to help children learn at home. BBC Bitesize also offers a wide selection of materials to help supplement your child’s education while at home, and Devon Libraries are offering a range of online facilities including free eBooks, eAudioBooks and eMagazines.

As part of Devon County Council’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, more than 100 free online courses developed by Learn Devon have been made available. Learn Devon will continue to offer a full programme of courses for the upcoming autumn term. Courses will be offered both online and, where safe, within the classroom.

Early Years and children’s centres

Information for early years and childcare service providers is available on the Devon County Council website. Meanwhile, a selection of eLearning training courses also remain available.

Parents and carers should refer to Devon County Council’s main Children, education and families coronavirus (COVID-19) advice page for information on early years and childcare.

Children’s centres remain open but are operating more remotely and exploring ways to support families virtually. More information and a full list of children’s centre Facebook pages is available on the Devon County Council website.

Action for Children deliver our children’s centre services in Devon and are offering online parenting support for families with children aged 0-19. From where to go for help, to coping with challenging behaviours, you can find advice and practical help on their website. As part of this service, Action for Children run a live chat function called TALK, which offers free, confidential 1-1 support with professionals on Monday to Friday. They also 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.

The Public Health Nursing (PHN) team continue to be able to answer any queries from parent about their child’s health and wellbeing. Parents and carers can text ChatHealth on 07520 631721 or can contact one of our Hubs:

More information about health visiting during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak can be found here.

If you have children under 4 or are pregnant and you or your family receive qualifying benefits you may be eligible for free food and vitamin vouchers from the Healthy Start programme.

Additionally, the ICON programme aims to help prevent abusive head trauma by offering support to parents to help them cope with a crying baby – especially during this stressful period. Practitioners should also read our ICON guidance and resources for professionals.

Finding summer provision and other childcare

The Devon County Council’s Early Years and Childcare Service have put a list together of those holiday schemes that are intending to open over the summer holidays. The list is available on Pinpoint, which includes up to date information about Early Years group settings, childminders and holiday clubs.

If you cannot find what you need, please complete the Unable to Find Childcare Form and return it to Pinpoint. If you are happy to do so, one of our team will contact you to help with finding the childcare you need over the summer holiday period.

Youth services

Youth centres are starting to open again, although many services are available online, digitally and through telephone support as well. Please see the Young Devon and Space Youth Services websites for the latest information and for contact details of how to get support.

You can request a call or text back from one of Space’s Youth Worker on their website.

Adoption, fostering, children in care and care leavers

Adopt South West is continuing to support adopters across Devon, Torbay, Plymouth and Somerset during this difficult time, and have lots of useful information and updates on their website. They have also pulled together a list of helpful resources on their Facebook page.

Fostering Devon is trying to keep things running as normally as possible. They have provided this guidance for foster carers, which includes a reminder everyone working with young people that we have access to the Mind Of My Own App.

Children in care and care leavers can find a range of guidance and advice on the Stand Up Speak Up website.

Government guidance about children’s social care services is available on their website.

Other information

The Family Group Conference Service will still be undertaking some family conferencing activities, but these will be by contacting families remotely using Face-time, Skype, Teams and WhatsApp.


Health and wellbeing

Mental health

Guidance and revised support for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) intervention is available on the Children and Family Health Devon website. CAMHS are also offering additional 24/7 telephone support. Please contact 03300 245 321 during normal hours (8am-5pm, Mon to Fri) or 0300 555 5000 outside these hours.

Young Devon provide information, advice and counselling for children and young people over 11. If you need to talk to someone, please email wellbeingenquiries@youngdevon.org. Anyone already receiving support through Young Devon’s Wellbeing service should email yes.exeter@youngdevon.org or call 07935364652 and leave a message with your name and contact details.

Kooth offers free, safe and anonymous online support and counselling for young people.

Young Minds have a range of help and advice, including guide for parent’s on how to support your child during the coronavirus pandemic and advice for young people about how they can look after their own mental health.

Childline have a similar advice page on how to cope during lockdown and also offer a free counselling service online or over the phone. Or you could try PsychCentral’s 49 phrases to calm an anxious child.

Meanwhile, the NHS Every Mind Matters website has tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus and how to look after your mental wellbeing while staying at home – you can even make your own Mind Plan.

MyTutor have published some useful tips and advice for parents to help their teens overcome body image issues, academic anxiety, peer pressure and cyberbullying.

Bristol Mental Health Trust and Trauma Foundation have developed a document to help people who are struggling with anxiety at this time. This document is available in 15 different languages.

The NHS has produced a mood self-assessment tool to help you better understand how you’ve been feeling. And if you become aware that you would like to talk about how you are feeling, mental health helplines can provide support.

For anyone experiencing suicidal feelings, Samaritans offer free online advice and are ready to answer calls and emails at any time day or night. Call 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org if you need to talk.

Government guidance for parents and carers on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is available on their website.

Exercise and diet

To help keep you and your family physically fit and active, NHS fitness studio offers free instructor-led home workout videos covering aerobics exercise, strength and resistance, and yoga and pilates. A range of low-impact exercises is also available.

The NHS’s Live Well advice pages offer guidance on healthy diets, getting a good night’s sleep and support and tips on how to reduce alcohol intake.

Active Devon also has some brilliant ideas on how we can keep moving. They’ve also launched a new live chat function so you can receive support, encouragement and inspiration from the comfort of your own home.

Young Carers

Westbank offers support for young carers and has information and advice for carers of all ages about what to do during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The Devon Young Carers web-based app is also available to help you stay connected and up-to-date. Additional resources specifically for young carers can be found on the Devon Carers website.

Further advice on family health and wellbeing

The Children’s Commissioner has produced a range of guides and advice to help support children and families during the coronavirus outbreak. This guidance includes a children’s guide to coronavirus and a resource page for parents.

The NSPCC website and the Children’s Society also have lots of information and support for families on their websites.

Louise Michelle Bomber and Touchbase offer useful tips for families through regular videos.

More information and guidance from Devon County Council about family health and wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic.


Keeping children safe

Online safety

With people spending longer indoors and online, internet safety is more important than ever. The Children’s Commissioner’s has produced a guide to staying safe online. Likewise, the NSPCC has advice about internet safety too, and Think U Know have created resources to support carers and parents.

Vulnerable children and young people

The government has produced guidance about the provisions being made for vulnerable children and young people.

Young people aged 11-19 can text a school nurse for confidential advice and support. Text ChatHealth on 07520 631722 for advice on things like relationships, bullying, mental health, self-harm, drugs and alcohol.

Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND)

The Devon County Council website has information on Disabled Children’s Services and SEND and Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

If your child’s EHCP contains a healthcare provision, please refer to this guidance from NHS Devon Clinical Care Group about continued access to health services.

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak the Preparing for Adulthood (PfA) team briefly took over managing some transitions to Adult Social Care of young people who are aged 17.5-18 years. Adult Social Care Community teams are now able to manage this once again, although the PfA team will continue to handle any transitions that they started with young people.

Devon Information Advice and Support (DiAS) has lots of information to support parents and carers with children with SEND during the current situation on their website. This includes guidance about the return to school in September.

The Disability Challengers website has a social story to explain coronavirus to children and young people with learning disabilities. And Little Puddins have written a social story about coronavirus (COVID-19) for children and young people with Autism.

Short Breaks

Due to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19), it is with regret that we need to pause our work to improve future short breaks (we will update this webpage as soon as we know when work can continue in this area).

As we’re sure you’ll appreciate, these are challenging times, and our current priority must be to provide support and an urgent response to those affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).

We are extremely grateful for the feedback that you have given us, and we want to assure you that this will be acted upon; as soon as we’re able to, we will continue this important work. We want to take this opportunity to thank you for your patience and continued involvement in co-designing short breaks. If you have any questions, please get in touch via sendlocaloffer@devon.gov.uk.

 


Protecting children from harm

Safeguarding procedures

Protecting children from harm remains our top priority. If you are worried that a child is at risk or concerned that they are being abused please call 0345 155 1071 or email mashsecure@devon.gov.uk. If it’s an emergency call 999.

Our existing child protection procedures remain in place.

The Adolescent Safety Framework (ASF) and Safer Me Assessment is not an emergency response mechanism and does not replace existing policy and procedures for child protection concerns or individual case planning where there is concern of harm within the home. In the first instance, you should discuss your concerns with your safeguarding lead, use the MASH consultation line 0345 155 1071. If you need to make a MASH enquiry, please email: mashsecure@devon.gov.uk

If you are concerned that the child has been trafficked, you need to report to the National Referral Mechanism or email them at nationalreferralmechanism@homeoffice.gov.uk.

If you have concerns over the radicalisation of a child or young person for the purposes of extremism please refer to the advice and guidance from the Prevent Channel Panel.

Safeguarding guidance to support colleagues in responding to contextual risk is available here.

The Devon & Torbay Anti-Slavery Partnership Spring 2020 briefing to partners covers the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on modern slavery and human trafficking.

Schools and safeguarding

For children and young people across the county who are at risk of exploitation or abuse, school is often a safe place to be during the day. Without this protective factor, children and young people are likely to be at greater risk.

It is the expectation that vulnerable children and young people, including those at risk of harm outside of the home, do attend their identified school or education setting – unless they have an underlying health conditions that put them at severe risk.

  • Devon children subject of a Safer Me child protection plan and Safer Me child in need plan will be expected to be in education.
  • Young people on Safer Me Team Around the Family (TAF) plans, this needs to be discussed with families and providers, and where appropriate additional support from education establishments is encouraged.
  • The guidance is clear that many children with Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans can safely remain at home.

Designated Safeguarding Leads (or a deputy) should be present in schools, or else can be contacted easily if they are both isolating at home and a senior school leader coordinate the response in school.

Government guidance about safeguarding in schools and colleges is available on their website.

Online exploitation

Online exploitation remains an ever-increasing risk, and the current restrictions are likely to increase that activity as the places and spaces young people operate in becoming increasingly reliant on virtual media as a substitute. Young people will be spending a lot more time online and will be at greater risk of online grooming and exploitation.

Devon and Cornwall Police – working in partnership with Dorset Police – have collected information to support both parents/carers and young people to spot the signs of online exploitation.

The online safety section above offers advice about how to keep children safe online. And the Child Exploitation and Online Protection command has published amended guidance and resources regarding online Child Sexual Exploitation risk.

Abuse

Domestic violence and abuse

This is a difficult and worrying time for everyone – but particularly so for adults and children living with abuse, and the professionals working hard to support them.

Devon and Cornwall Police are eager to remind victims of domestic abuse that you are not alone. If you need support and advice, please visit their domestic abuse support page or contact Devon Victim Care.

Devon’s regional domestic violence and abuse support charity, Splitz, continue to offer support to anyone suffering abuse.

National charity Refuge have a free 24-hour helpline. If you need help now, call 0808 2000 247 for expert advice and support.

More information about domestic abuse is available on the Devon and Cornwall Police website, and the NSPCC also has guidance on how to keep children safe from abuse.

SafeLives also have resources for parents, children families and practitioners available on their website. New resources are being added every day, and you can sign up for updates. You can also join SafeLives’s community platform to access webinars and resources as well as to network with others across the country.

Please also note that Boots chemists are offering safe spaces within their pharmacies for victims of domestic abuse.

Sexual abuse

The Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) advice line is still fully functioning and available 24/7. Call on 03003034626, or visit the SARC website.

Stop It Now offer confidential support for those who are worried about their or someone else’s sexual thoughts/behaviour. Visit the Stop It Now website or call 0808 1000 900

Information on how to protect children from child sexual abuse is available on the Parents Protect website, while the NSPCC’s PANTS rule provides simple and clear messages that are easy for children to understand.

In an emergency, call the police on 999.

Guidance for practitioners about how to manage the risk of sexual abuse during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is available here.

Police support and intervention

The Coronavirus Act 2020 introduces increased powers for the police to stop, arrest and detain individuals, if necessary, who are not complying by lockdown guidance. However, enforcement is a last resort, and Devon and Cornwall Police remain committed in ensuring that a partnership and engagement approach with young people remains central – so as not to undermine attempts to ensure young people who are experiencing extra-familial harm are safeguarded and not criminalised.

It is also still vital that professionals across the partnership continue to share information and intelligence regarding exploitation activity to ensure that young people are kept safe in their community.

Please contact the Police if you have any information that would be useful intelligence.

The expectations for parents and staff actions around “missing” continue as was the case prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. There continues to be an expectation that if a young person absents themselves, staff and parents will take reasonable steps to follow the young person and to search for them appropriately, while avoiding unnecessary contact with others. It isn’t appropriate to call the police simply because a young person has failed to follow guidance to remain at the home/school. The normal approaches to “missing” should be applied.

Please bear in mind that frontline police officers are likely to come into contact with a wide range of people during a tour of duty. Limiting the occasions when police are asked to attend our homes unnecessarily will also reduce the likelihood of cross-infection.

If you are concerned that a child is being abused please call

0345 155 1071

or email mashsecure@devon.gov.uk.

Professionals should complete the MASH contact form.

If it’s an emergency call 999


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