We know that these are unsettling, unprecedented and challenging times for everyone - not least those involved in caring for and supporting children in foster care. We are extremely grateful to all those involved in fostering who provide support and stability to children and young people in foster care and we will do our utmost to play our part in this.
Across the UK government guidance is changing to respond to the pandemic, rather than reflect the changes on our website, we are linking to the latest country guidance that details government restrictions for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Guidance on local restrictions is contained within each of these links. This page lists useful resources, helplines and advice and is being regularly updated. There is a similar page for fostering services.
How The Fostering Network can help
- During this time of uncertainty due to coronavirus, all our helplines will remain open as usual for any fostering-related queries, including those which arise as a result of coronavirus. If you need any support, advice or a listening ear, please get in touch.
- Members can also make use of our stress support service and legal helpline.
- If you are a foster carer with concerns or queries about coronavirus and local practice (such as contact arrangements), or its impact on your fostering because of health, then please contact your fostering service in the first instance as they know you, your family and the children in your care.
- Our practice staff across the UK are working with fostering services to advise on best practice in these unprecedented times.
- We are liaising with other organisations, including statutory bodies, across the UK to enable consistency of advice to fostering services, and to ensure the needs of our foster carer and fostering service members are being fed in to national decision making.
- Our online community can also be a place to support and share advice with each other/others from the fostering community.
- We have created a list of useful resources for foster carers to make use of throughout the coronavirus pandemic. We would love to hear from you if you have a good suggestion for our list, please email us at email@example.com. We also have a list of member discounts and offers, adapted so you can still benefit from them throughout the pandemic, available here.
- Contact arrangements during the coronavirus pandemic
- Foster carers as key workers
- Planned breaks
- Accessing equipment to support learning
Country specific information
Relevant government guidance
Briefings on Covid-19 restrictions and the fostering role
Rule of six and the three-tier system
The rule of six and three-tier Covid local alert level system was re-introduced across England on 2 December 2020 following the national lockdown. The following briefing aims to provide clarity on the rule of six and the three-tier system in relation to the fostering role.
Guidance for young care leavers
The Department for Education, along with other government departments, has produced a series of guidance documents and factsheets to support young care leavers (aged 16 to 25) during the pandemic, which can be found on the care leaver covenant webpage.
Other helplines and advice
- There are regular updates on Department for Education’s Twitter and Facebook channels.
- The Children's Commissioner's advice and assistance service, Help at Hand, is there for vulnerable children during the COVID-19 crisis. If there are any foster children that would like our help or you have any concerns you would like to raise with us please contact us on 0800 5280 731 (open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Department for Education has provided fixed-term funding to help support young people and their families most affected by coronavirus. Part of this funding is for Fosterline Plus which offers independent one to one virtual support for current foster carers (including family and friends carers) in England experiencing extreme anxiety or crisis as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The service may also be used by prospective carers who require additional support during the assessment process.
Relevant government guidance
- The Department for Health have issued COVID-19 Guidance for foster care and supported lodgings. This was last updated on 25 June 2020.
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations guidance: what the restrictions mean for you
Other helplines and advice
- Health and Social Care Trust: Guidance for employers and businesses.
- Publich Health Agency advice: https://www.publichealth.hscni.net
- Department of Health advice: https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/coronavirus
- The Northern Ireland Social Care Council has published a free online resource for infection control.
- The Education Auhtority has established a helpline, open to all foster carers, to provide support for learning. The helpline number is 028 7051 1086 (open Monday - Thursday 8am to 5pm and Friday 8am to 4pm). You can also email them at: email@example.com
- The Department of Education has published Education Restart information for partents and carers and children and young people.
Relevant government guidance
There has been no fostering specific coronavirus related guidance published in Scotland. Below are links to the overarching guidance and guidance relevant to children’s contact centres.
- Scottish government guidance on what you can and cannot do which includes information on seeing friends and family, travel, and guidance for students on visits home.
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) Phase 3: staying safe and protecting others
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): child contact services guidance
Other helplines and advice
- NHS inform: www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/coronavirus-covid-19
- Health Protection Scotland: www.hps.scot.nhs.uk/a-to-z-of-topics/wuhan-novel-coronavirus/
- The Scottish Government: www.gov.scot/
- Disclosure Scotland: www.mygov.scot/coronavirus-disclosure/
- Children's Hearings Scotland: http://www.chscotland.gov.uk/home/
- Scottish Children's Reporter Administration (SCRA): https://www.scra.gov.uk/contact-us/coronavirus-attending-childrens-hearings/
- Parent Club: https://www.parentclub.scot/
- Clan Child Law Centre: https://www.clanchildlaw.org/contact
- CAMHS: https://www.camhs-resources.co.uk/
Information and support for children and young people
- Young Scot: young.scot/campaigns/national/coronavirus
- Reach has information to help young people, particularly with their schooling and education: https://reach.scot/get-help/coronavirus/
- The Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland is there to help children, making sure human rights are still in place to keep children safe and happy: https://cypcs.org.uk/coronavirus/
- The First Minister answers questions from children about Coronavirus: https://www.parentclub.scot/kidscovidqs
- To help parents and carers make sense of the latest easing of restrictions in Scotland, Parent Club has developed some resources which are abailable on their website for parents and via We Transfer for children.
Relevant government guidance
- Children’s social services during the COVID-19 pandemic: guidance
- Coronavirus regulations: frequently asked questions
- There is also additional guidance on vulnerable children and young people.
- Courts and Tribunals Judiciary have issued Guidance on Compliance with Family Court Child Arrangement Orders for the coronavirus crisis.
Other helplines and advice
Welsh Government advice:
- Vulnerable children webpage / Cymru
- Education safeguarding webpage / Cymru
Senedd Research, National Assembly for Wales: https://seneddresearch.blog/2020/03/17/coronavirus-constituency-support
Care Inspectorate Wales:
Children’s Commissioner for Wales:
Voices from Care:
WCVA: Voluntary Services Emergency Fund (VSEF):
Social Care Wales:
- Covid-19 information, signposting and resources to support those in the social care sector who are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Wales. Visit the COVID-19 pages Ewch i'n tudalennau gwe COVID-19
- Social Care Wales is providing a social care worker card which allows access to priority shopping at major supermarkets in Wales. All social care workers are eligible for the card, including foster carers. Fostering services should be distributing the cards to their foster carers either virtually or digitally .
Samaritans has launched a new confidential emotional support line for NHS and social care workers, funded by the Welsh Government. Foster carers are encouraged to use it if you feel you need the support, for example, this might be if you are feeling worried, stressed or overwhelmed, or just needs to talk things through. The helpline is open frm 7am to 11pm seven days a week:
- English speaking number: 0800 484 0555
- Welsh speaking number: 0808 164 2777
We are pulling together useful resources for foster families, especially during school closures. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you come across any great websites or resources, and please check back to this page regularly as we add new resources.
Useful resources for children and young people about covid-19
- BBC Newsround has a useful page about the coronavirus.
- Our friends at Become have this page of advice for care experienced young people.
- Read our interview with Dr Dawn Huebner who is a clinical psychologist specialising in the treatment of anxious children. Her latest book Something Bad Happened guides children and the adults who care for them through tough conversations about serious world events in the news.
- The BookTrust has put together this list of books for children to talk through things when times are tough.
- The National Association of School Pyschologists in America have this page on how to speak to children about the coronavirus.
- NSPCC Speak out, stay safe virtual assembly helps children understand what’s happening currently, why they may be feeling anxious or worried, and where to get help if they need it.
- Oxford and Reading Universities have produced advice for parents, carers and people who work with children and young people on supporting children and young people with worries about COVID-19
- The NHS has a great coronavirus resource HUB which includes guidance for carers and caring for SEND children.
- Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have a webpage dedicated to coronavirus resources for parents and carers.
- The Scottish Government's Parent Club has a wealth of resources explaining the changes to coronavirus restrictions as well as some great indoor and outdoor activities.
- Civic Medial Centre have published resources for if you, or your looked after child are exempt from wearing a mask including face covering exemption cards.
General Covid-19 updates from key organisations
- Government updates on COVID-19: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
- Government guidance for children's social care services: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-childrens-social-care-services/
- NHS advice: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
- British Association of Social Workers updates: https://www.basw.co.uk/coronavirus-covid-19-basw-updates
Resources for managing wellbeing
- Mental Health Foundation have a page about looking after your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Mental Health Foundation also have a page focused on facing winter during the pandemic.
- NSPCC have released guidance about how to have difficult conversations with children.
- Oxford mindfulness centre have free online sessions and podcasts.
- AC Education have a useful video on understanding and calming anxiety in children in the current context.
- With school closures, young children at home are more frequently exposed to dangerous—although common—substances. The Child Accident Prevention Trust have some very helpful resources to help keep children out of danger of poisoning.
- The Britsh Psychological society have created this guidance on Supporting care-experienced children and young people during the Covid-19 crisis and its aftermath.
- The Children's society has a great coronavirus information and support page including how to cope with conflics, staying safe online, and dealing with stress.
- Think Ninja is an app which brings self-help knowledge and skills to children and young people (10-18yrs) who may be experiencing increased anxiety and stress during the crisis.
- The NSPCC have put together an article on how to help children deal with divorce or separation during coronavirus.
- Don't forget that members can join our online community which is a vital place for peer support.
- University of Reading’s resource Covid-19: Helping young people manage low mood and depression.
- The BBC have an 'Own It' keyboard and app which gives young people advice when they need, in real time as they type.
Resources to support education
For many families, school closures or being told to self-isolate and seeking to maintain children's education, and keep them entertained can be very daunting. We have published a blog to help Supporting learning during periods of school closure: a guide for fostering families.
If your looked after child has been told to self-isoalte, or their school has temporarily closed, you might want some ideas and resources to continue to support learning when children are at home.
- Our page on supporting maths for primary learners.
- Our page on supporting writing for primary learners.
- Our page on supporting reading for primary learners.
- This page has been created to support children's online safety at a time when children will spending more time online at home.
- ASDAN have free resources to support home learning and educating. They also have Lift Off, a programme for transition from primary to secondary school, but may now have relevance for young people in year 8 to settle back into school, and Accelerating Progress, which supports young people aged 14-16 to achieve a good grade at GCSE in English or Maths.
- Unicef has guidance on how you can support your child's mental health during COVD-19 school returns.
You may also find helpful resources aimed at helping children transition back to their educational setting.
- NSPCC have also created guidance about returning to school after the coronavirus lockdown.
- Childline has a page for young people coping with going back to school.
- CBBC Newsround has an informative video with the BBC's Education Correspondent answering all of your back to school questions.
- The Royal College of Occupational Therapists have produced a useful guide for parents to prepare their children for returning to school.
- The BBC have resources for returning to learning.
Online safety and advice
Ideas for keeping busy and nurtured at home
- The Scouts have released a new resource 'The Great Indoors', which features over 200 some tasks for children to do on their own, or with their families.
- This Family Lockdown and Ideas Facebook page has loads of great ideas for family activites at home.
- National Geographic Kids is a fun website for children who like to explore the world.
- Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have some stay at home activities for children and young people.
- Why not learn a new language using Duolingo?
- Blue Peter has eight badges children can work towards.
- The Tate has a very vibrant section for children with games, quizzes and ideas of things to make.
- A New Direction has a fabulous list of 10 creative at-home activities for families, including ideas for indoor treasure hunts.
- BSL is offering pay what you can sign language classes for the under 18s.
- And here are some free live online art lessons.
- If you have a garden here are 25 ideas for fun activities from Expert Home Tips.
- The Children's Commissioner in Wales has a range of useful resources and ideas, including in the Welsh language.
- The Cinema Society is bringing movies to your home by providing discounts on Rakuten TV, Chili and Sky Store ecodes. Once logged in, go to 'Buy vouchers' to see the options available.
- Girlguiding are releasing weekly adventures at home for children of all ages (from 4 to 18 years old)
- Google Arts and Culture is amazing, featuring virtual tours of hundreds of art galleries and museums.
- Here's a list of virtual museum tours including the Louvre, the British Museum and the Guggenheim.
- Here are 22 other virtual tours including volcanoes in Hawai'i, Carnegie Hall in New York, and Disney World.
- Every Thursday, The National Theatre broadcasts shows online for free.
- Usborne children's books have created fun and interactive virtual days out, from trips to London and the Zoo!
- Check out these virtual camp ideas on Good Housekeeping.
- Ticketmaster have a fantastic range of virtual days in and socially distanced outdoor events.
Ideas for keeping the whole family fit at home
- Joe Wicks, the Body Coach, has his fun and child friendly workout videos saved on his Youtube Channel.
- Cosmic kids is yoga, mindfulness and relaxation designed specially for kids aged 3+
- Go Noodle is a fantastic Youtube Channel with themed dance along videos, including Frozen 2 and Sonic the Hedgehog!
- Youth Sports Trust have all of the resources from their National Sport Week at Home saved on their website. Why not give them a go in your garden or local park!