Thank you to the 226 carers who responded to the recent carer survey regarding your experiences and that of the children and young people in your care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This excellent response rate means we have access to clear information from carers about their experiences in the last few months as well as their immediate and mid range support and advocacy needs.
Whilst some carers experienced good support, all carers held increased responsibility for facilitating access visits, assisting children and young people with online schooling, entertaining and moderating behavioural changes, sometimes increased violence or self harm behaviours. Many carers were attempting to work from home whilst facilitating remote learning, access and ensuring the safety and wellbeing of children at a time of unprecedented disruption. Some carers outlined a positive impact on the children in their care from the reduction in home visits and/or family access. A few carers and the children in their care have experienced long awaited court dates or permanency plans being put on hold for an indeterminate time. Some respite carers have not had a placement since the pandemic hit and have not heard from their agency.
Unfortunately many carers experienced a gap in requisite guidance or support, some for weeks at a time. A majority felt financial strain due to the additional costs of being at home or reduced earning capacity. Whilst the support from the education system was good to excellent for most carers, some experienced backlash to inquiring about/sending children to school despite the health guidelines being clear that this was an available option for children in care. Some found the lack of supervision and routine even when attending school was dysregulating for the child in their care.
Carers' written responses were illuminating and outlined specific experiences. Strong themes arose from responses regarding respite and support with managing children’s wellbeing and behaviour. In the interests of protecting identifying information we have not published the written responses, however an autogenerated wordcloud shows schooling, respite, access visits and general need for more support during this period are high priorities for carers. There are clear areas of ongoing fallout from COVID-19 with evidence for where best to channel extra support, funding and resources for this recovery period. The FCAV will use this data to advocate for carers and the children in their care now and to demonstrate where measures for carers support should be targetted for any future crisis situations.