10:35AM, Friday 24 July 2020
The impact of COVID-19 on Slough Children’s Services Trust (SCST) has been revealed at a council meeting.
Representatives from the trust, which operates independently from the council, met virtually with councillors to discuss how the pandemic has affected its operation.
Carol Douch, assistant director of improvement and frontline practice at SCST, said social workers had faced ‘increased anxiety’ since the public health crisis began due to a change in working practices.
She told the meeting: “We’ve had this balance between keeping our staff safe by not being in the office but having the expectation that they continue to visit children and families.
“That’s increased anxiety for some of those staff. They’ve been going out, sometimes in full PPE, but a number of them have had to return home because they’re not in the office on the rota having perhaps seen or been part of a distressing situation for a child.
“The impact of not going into an office and getting that support from your peers and managers is one that we’re starting to see.
“That’s having a huge impact on some of the staff.”
She added nationally this had led to an increase in resignations from social workers but this trend had not been seen in Slough.
Social workers completed nearly 2,400 visits tochildren between March 23 and June 29, the meeting was told.
SCST chief executive, Lisa Humphreys, said the trust has seen signs of increased mental health issues in adults and children since the UK lockdown was announced in March.
The number of referrals involving domestic abuse between April and June also rose by 325 per cent compared to the same period last year.
Ms Humphreys said the trust was helping families who had not been known for domestic abuse before and this was possibly due to the stress and psychological issues of being in close confinement.
At the end of June, COVID-19 related costs to the trust stood at £219,000.
This included money which had to be spent providing round-the-clock supervision to individuals who did not comply with Government guidance on social distancing.
Cate Duffy, strategic director for children, learning and skills at the council, said money had been made available from central Government to help cover the costs of COVID-19 to children’s services but it did not cover all the costs.
The meeting of the council’s education and children’s services scrutiny panel took place on Thursday, July 16.
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