Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): looked after children and young people - family contact

Last updated: 15 Jan 2021 - see all updates
Published: 15 Dec 2020

Guidance for managers, social workers and social care providers arranging contact between looked after and accommodated children and young people and their families in both local authority premises, community settings and in some circumstances, a private dwelling.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): looked after children and young people - family contact


The Strategic Framework sets out the restrictions on travel within each of the five protection levels, with restrictions on non-essential travel in certain circumstances. More information about travel restrictions across Scotland can be found in Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on travel and transport.

Across all five protection levels there is an exemption for essential travel for the purposes of work or for essential services including social care. The exceptions can be found in the Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on travel and transport. Family contact for looked after children which is considered essential by local decision makers can therefore be considered an exception for the purposes of travel in and out of level 3 and 4 areas.

International quarantine regulations will also apply across all five protection levels. These restrictions may apply for people travelling into Scotland. This includes travel to attend a court ordered contact session. Guidance on restrictions relating to international travel can be found at Coronavirus (COVID-19): international travel and quarantine.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): public use of face coverings provides information about the mandatory use of face coverings on public transport, shops and within certain public buildings.  Social workers should encourage staff, volunteers and users to plan their journey to and from contact and to follow physical distancing throughout the journey. Advice on how and when to travel within Scotland and guidance on public and private transport such as car sharing is available from Transport Scotland.

Face to face contact may be permitted as a result of the exemptions outlined earlier in this guidance in order to facilitate the maintenance of meaningful relationships for children, young people and their families where this is considered essential for their wellbeing. Decisions should, however, be made in individual circumstances and in accordance with the documents in Coronavirus (COVID-19): safe and ethical social work practice and SWS Contact Framework, which highlight the importance of assessing, balancing and managing risks and needs. At times phases of virtual communication rather than direct contact may be essential for health reasons. A collaborative approach to planning and reviewing arrangements with family members, children, young people, carers and professionals will help all those involved in supporting the maintenance of important relationships, to understand and comply with decisions.

First published: 15 Dec 2020 Last updated: 15 Jan 2021 -