The report was presented by Michele Lucas and Janet Simon.
The Chair said that teachers, staff and social workers had put in an exceptional amount of work to keep children educated during the Covid-19 pandemic and congratulated them on their hard work. She commented that she would have liked to see a roadmap for education out of lockdown but she acknowledge the difficulties in acquiring the data. She said that children had been impacted the most as she had heard of regression in some areas such as potty training, reading and writing. She raised concerns over the care leavers in NEET and questioned what plans were in place to resolve these issues. Michele Lucas explained that the service used Inspire and the government’s kickstart scheme had helped young people as the service had just recruited 5 young people under this scheme. She said that care leavers had struggled during lockdown and the service was working with them through programmes that they were monitoring closely.
Councillor Anderson commented that some children had not been able to physically see family during lockdown which was distressing. He questioned what plans were in place for face to face contact once the lockdown restrictions ended. Janet Simon said that most children had already had that face to face contact safely such as in the park.
Councillor Watson thanked the service for their hard work. She questioned how the service had been supporting young carers who have had to look after a vulnerable parent during lockdown. The service had been trying to support these young carers by encouraging them to go out when possible. The ones known to the service, a social worker had been seeing them. There had also been discussions in encouraging family members to help young carers.
At 9.15pm, the Committee agreed to suspend standing orders until 9.45pm to enable the rest of the agenda to be completed.
Councillor Akinbohun asked what support had been in place for children’s mental health during lockdown and when children would have the Covid-19 vaccination. Janet Simon said that meetings had been held between young people and mental health colleagues. Parents or carers’ mental health were also monitored as it could impact children. Social workers had continued to see children and make referrals to mental health services where needed and the service was supportive in ensuring that children had that respite. Michele Lucas said that the covid vaccinations were not offered to children yet but it would be a parents’ decision. The service and schools could not insist on these.
The Vice-Chair said that SEND children had returned to school after the first lockdown and had settled back in without issues. However, children in mainstream schools had returned later and had picked up some challenging behaviours that were not present before. He felt the report needed to be come back in 6 months to update the Committee on this issue.
1.1 Children’s O&S to note the support provided to vulnerable children and young people over the past year.
1.2 Children’s O&S to consider other areas of support going forward as we look to the recovery phase from Covid-19.