On 23 March 2020 the UK government directed the public to severely restrict in-person contact and travel outside the home in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This ‘lockdown’ presents significant barriers to children in local authority care, in kinship care, with special guardians, or adopted spending time face-to-face with their birth families.
Guidance issued in April by the Department for Education and the Welsh Government set out the expectation that family contact plans for children in care should continue but that contact would need to take place virtually. Where contact orders were in force the guidance suggested that the spirit of these should be followed with social workers making individualised decisions based on the circumstances of each case.
This rapid research project was commissioned in order to try to urgently understand what means agencies were putting in place to support children to keep in touch with their birth families, and how this was working—especially for children.