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Update for colleagues from Jo Olsson – 19th June

As we move into the next phase of coronavirus (COVID-19), we want to give colleagues a clear overview of the current situation and our plan moving forward. The following is the latest update from Jo Olsson, Devon County Council’s Chief Officer for Children’s Services and Chair of the Devon SCP Executive Group. 

Dear colleagues,

This is my fourth message on behalf of the Devon Safeguarding Children Partnership (Devon SCP), and I want to share with you our thinking and planning for the next phase of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The National Network of Designated Healthcare Professionals made a passionate and powerful submission to the May Health Select Committee on behalf of children, arguing for a national re-set in our approach to children.

The Devon SCP agree that children have sacrificed much to protect the community during the pandemic. They have missed a substantial part of their education, and for vulnerable children the cost of that loss is likely to be very high. They have experienced all the anxieties and uncertainties that adults have experienced, including bereavements and loss, and they are facing a very uncertain future with anticipated increases in child poverty and threats to their future employment and life chances.

Phase One of the coronavirus (COVID-19) response in Children’s Services was about re-purposing schools and education, getting help and support to families who needed it risk, maintaining contact, assessing risk and safety planning. The Devon SCP has embraced the need for an urgent re-set for children nationally and locally. We are particularly mindful of the emotional and mental health and well-being needs of children and young people as they return to school. We have started work on demand modelling because we anticipate a significant uplift in need across all of Children’s Services.

The Devon SCP has scheduled three workshops over the next six weeks. The first is a listening exercise listening to the experience of children young people and families through lockdown and as we emerge. The second session will bring together what we hear from families with our local and national knowledge from data and practice wisdom. We will integrate this with the re-set challenge set out in Hidden Harms. We will be asking ourselves the four R questions based on our experience so far:

  • Return: Things we can’t wait to get back to
  • Retain: Things we do now that we want to keep doing
  • Reject: Things we don’t want to go back to doing
  • Radical: What other things could we do

The third workshop will pull everything together and articulate the vision and priorities for the partnership in the next phase of living with coronavirus (COVID-19) in the community. We will set out clearly our expectation of ourselves for Phase Two. We plan to publish the vision and priorities on the Devon SCP website by the end of July.

Let me end by recognising the enormous contribution everyone is making to the well-being of children and families in Devon. Our Lead Member said this week:

“I couldn’t be more proud of Devon, the way the community has responded and the way everyone has come together to do their very best for children and families”

We have such an opportunity now. The Devon SCP intends to seize it.

With very best wishes,
Jo Olsson
Chief Officer for Children’s Services (Devon County Council)
Chair of the Devon SCP Executive Group