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Update for colleagues from Jo Olsson – 14th May

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 an update from Jo Olsson, Devon County Council’s Chief Officer for Children’s Services and Chair of the Devon SCP Executive Group. 

Dear colleagues,

I am writing on behalf of the Devon Safeguarding Children Partnership, first and foremost to say a huge thank you to everyone who is doing such sterling work in unprecedented times. Everyone I have spoken to has shared the same certainty that the partnership in Devon has gone from strength to strength, working seamlessly to support children and families through these unprecedented times.

We are just entering the next phase of coronavirus (COVID-19) where we expect to see higher levels of uncertainty and complexity. Lockdown was at least simple! The next phase will be more complex and more contested, which many will find unsettling.

Communication in this phase is even more important. This is the first of what I expect will be a regular message for all partners from the Devon SCP.

The Devon SCP has set up multi-agency Incident Management Teams to focus on key groups of children. The partnership architecture and priorities have been re-purposed for coronavirus (COVID-19).

We want vulnerable children to be in school, but please note that special arrangements are already in place for children who attend special schools.

On the 1st May:

  • 20% of children subject of a protection plan were in school
  • 14% of children subject of a child in need plan were in school

We have seen the percentage of vulnerable children in school increase week by week, but, nevertheless, the majority of our most vulnerable children are not spending time with trusted adults outside of the family.

On the whole staff absence In Devon remains low, and, as a consequence, there is no reduction in the statutory social work services that we provide for children and their families, although services are being delivered in different ways.

Public Health Nursing (PHN) is open for business as usual and partners should advertise ChatHealth particularly for young people. PHN hubs can now be contacted by telephone or email.

Daily triage in Early Help is in place to ensure we can coordinate and deliver effective and timely support for families. Demand into Early Help is increasing but is containable within existing resources.

Schools responded magnificently to the challenge to re-purpose in lockdown to provide virtual education for most and to support in school the children of key workers and vulnerable children. The % of children attending school in Devon is higher than the national average. The next challenge is preparing for 1st June and government expectations of school attendance for some primary age children. This is a formidable challenge for schools. For further guidance, please visit the Devon County Council website, which is updated very frequently for information about schools.

Please let me know if there is further information that you would find helpful and contact the partnership office if there is anything you need from the partnership to help you in your work.

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