About this guidance
Purpose of this guidance
The aim of this guidance is to provide clarity on what is expected with regard to practical approaches to managing contact arrangements, which are often mandated by the court or children’s hearings. It is intended to assist professionals and care providers in decision making about face-to-face contact in local authority premises and within the community; and to inform understanding for children, young people and their families. Where children or young people are living in residential settings, the Coronavirus (COVID-19): residential childcare provides further, specific information for consideration. Within this document, the term ‘child’ is taken to mean a child or young person up to 18 years of age.
This guidance will provide key principles for consideration and is not intended to promote a checklist approach. It supports decision making, taking account of local measures and public health guidance, whilst ensuring children’s human rights are respected. Any interference in a child’s human rights must be necessary, proportionate and time limited.
Professionals should exercise their judgement to ensure that the safety and wellbeing of children, young people, families, carers and staff members is paramount, taking account of local circumstances and the overall recommendation to reduce to a minimum the number of direct contacts to continue suppression of the COVID-19 virus. Children’s Services planning partnerships must comply with their human rights duties under Article 9(3) of the UNCRC and ensure every child has the right to maintain personal relations and direct contact with their parents unless contrary to that child’s best interests. Any proposed restrictions to limit or prevent contact by a local decision maker must be undertaken on a case by case basis, and be justified in terms of balancing the human rights considerations for the child.
The key aim of this guidance is to ensure that for all involved, the risk of exposure is minimised, whilst children are supported and enabled to meaningfully maintain relationships which are essential to their wellbeing.