Posted by Stephen Sowden on 22nd April 2020
Last updated 27th April 2022

Last night, BBC Newsnight reported  that only 5% of vulnerable children are going to school despite having places.

There are reasons why this may be, some will stay away because of health reasons others will be kept at home because the parents don’t think that education is really a priority at the moment or they think their children should be treated the same as all the other children and allowed additional time off school.

Support is there for them and we should encourage parents to use it

When the lockdown was announced it was made very clear that schools would remain open for the children of key workers, who deserve ongoing support and applause, and those vulnerable children who could be exposed to drug taking, domestic abuse, neglect and long-term poverty. We have all seen the heroic efforts of many schools in providing food to those families who simply do not have enough money to feed their children and  rely on the school meal system to ensure that the children at least have one meal a day.

This is absolutely heart-breaking but instead of sensational headlines perhaps we could encourage those families and children to attend school?

I work  in the childcare system and can also see the immense stress and pressures that social workers have been placed under as they manage their existing families and caseloads under the current restrictions.

However the main concern is that these children are going to be lost and hidden from the people who are able to monitor their physical, emotional well-being on a day-to-day basis.

Families shouldn’t be afraid to seek help

No one wants to admit that they are struggling as a family or as a parent. It’s a big step to make that admission.

If you are in a situation where you know that you are not coping, that your children should be in school, that you do not have sufficient money to feed them, clothe them or the ability to keep them safe you must make contact with social services to pre-empt any steps that they may need to take to protect your child.

How can we at the Family Law Company help?

Despite what many people think social services are there to keep families together  so they will be able to provide what assistance they can within the current restrictions. If social services do decide to become more involved on a more formal setting and look at placing your child, putting a child in need plan in place or calling a public law outline meeting then you will need legal advice.

Our care team in either in Exeter or Plymouth will be able to advise and support you.  We can talk you through the process to ensure that you have the best possible chance of working with social services and keeping your child at home and as part of your family.

Need some advice? Get in touch today

Stephen Sowden is a Solicitor at The Family Law Company. Although Stephen has experience in all areas of family law, he now leads our Care team with his specialism in all matters relating to children law, the rights of the child and the best interests of the child.

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