Safeguarding support for Herefordshire's vulnerable children and young people has continued throughout the pandemic
The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, recently released a report “Teenagers Falling Through The Gaps” highlighting concerns for children and young people who were already vulnerable and falling through gaps in the UK’s school and social care system, before the pandemic. The report rightly focuses on how vulnerable children and young people can now be more vulnerable due to the impact of the lockdown and COVID19.
I acknowledge the content of the report and I feel it is important to highlight the work of the council and our partners to safeguard Herefordshire’s children and young people.
The wellbeing of children and young people is our core priority. Working closely with our partners and children and young people themselves, we have created a Children and Young People’s Plan which lays out a multi-agency approach to the safety of the children and young people living in the county. Our multi agency safeguarding measures enable support to be in place to keep vulnerable children and young people in education, guide them towards employment and protect them from the risks of domestic abuse, poor mental health, substance misuse, crime and exploitation.
During the recent lockdown these multi-agency safeguarding measures have continued to operate and have responded to any safeguarding concerns received regarding any child or young person in Herefordshire. The council’s social work teams, family support and early help services have quickly adopted new ways of working to ensure that support has continued across the county for children and families that needed our services. In April the council introduced a new ‘Edge of Care’ service to work with children and young people and their families to either prevent the child entering into care or to enable them to leave care services and live back within their family network.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the partners involved in the care of Herefordshire children and young people and to the staff who have embraced their new ways of working during this pandemic to ensure that support services have continued. I would also like to thank the children, young people and their families themselves, who have shown immense strength during these difficult times and have adapted to the changes in their lives under extraordinary circumstances.
I recognise that the effects of COVID-19 and the lockdown are significant and serious. This includes reduced opportunities for employment. It is something that as cabinet we are focusing on as part of our work, particularly with regard to young people and those who are vulnerable.
At this present time we are not sure how the future will look, but along with our partners Herefordshire Council, through the Safeguarding Children and Young People in Herefordshire Partnership will continue to work to ensure that we stay connected to the vulnerable children and families in our local communities and they can be assured that the wellbeing support will be there for them when they need it.