We are keeping this page regularly updated with information related to the coronavirus (Covid-19) that is relevant for adoption professionals.

For children

Childline have updated their resources for children who are feeling worried about the world with a page specifically on coronavirus.

The Children's Commissioner has also published a children's guide to coronavirus.

This free book for children has been written in partnership with the London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, illustrator of The Gruffalo.

NSPCC has updated this page about anxiety, depression, and mental health with advice for talking to children about the coronavirus.

Government funding, wages, and taxes

*NEW* The Coronavirus Community Support Fund, delivered through the National Lottery Community Fund, opened for applications on Friday 22 May at 10am. More information here.

The Department for Education has announced that up to £8 million from the Adoption Support Fund will be made available to families in England for emergency support including online counselling and couples therapy. Guidance on the new scheme can be downloaded here.

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has announced that the government will be providing £750 million for charities that have been affected by the coronavirus crisis. We are working closely with the DfE to understand how, when, and to whom this funding will be made available.

The Chancellor has also announced a package of support to help business (including charities) through the coming months. Further information on all of the support on offer can be found here. You can also use the government's business support finder tool to identify the support that might be available to you.

All of the following apply throughout the UK.

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. Further details here.

  • VAT deferral: The government will support businesses by deferring VAT payments for 3 months, from 30 March to 30 June. This is automatic, and businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal. For self-employed workers (e.g. associate therapists, etc.), Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.

  • Income Tax Self-Assessment: Payments due on 31 July 2020 will be deferred until 31 January 2021. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.

  • Statutory sick pay: Employers with less than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020 are eligible for a refund on up to two weeks of SSP. You should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. If evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website. The government will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism as soon as possible.

  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme: The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value. Further details here and here. The government recommends that you talk to your bank or finance provider and discuss your business plan with them ASAP. 

  • Time to Pay service: All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. Please call HMRC’s dedicated helpline: 0800 0159 559.

  • The government has announced that those who are self-employed or part of a partnership can claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be relevant for therapists or other associate staff. Details here.

England & Wales only

  • The government will provide additional Small Business Grant Scheme funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBBR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs. You do not need to do anything – your LA will write to you if you are eligible for this grant. The Welsh government has published a statement which includes this scheme here.

Scotland only

  • Of the £350 million, £50 million has been specifically made available to charities as part of the Wellbeing Fund. Details here, apply here. Applications are currently paused to allow time for assessment, and will open for expressions of interest again on 7th May.

  • The Scottish Government has also put £20 million into the Third Sector Resilience Fund. Details on how to apply for funding here.

Northern Ireland only

  • The government has announced measures to provide childcare for vulnerable children and the children of key workers. More information here.

Other funding opportunities

Fundraising.co.uk has a full list of opportunities; the below may be particularly relevant to VAAs.

  • *NEW* The Baring Foundation has announced new funding streams to support legal action related to the pandemic, and to help previous grant awardees with operational costs and the provision of advice. More information here.

  • The Directory for Social Change is keeping a comprehensive and regularly updated list of funding opportunities here.

  • The Youth Endowment Fund is inviting applications from organisations working with young people (aged 10-14) at risk of youth violence in England and Wales. Organisations can apply for funding of £25,000 and over. Applications will close at 12pm Wednesday 3 June 2020. For more information and to apply, please click here.

  • Big Society Capital has worked with social investors and DCMS to create a £100 million emergency response. More details here.

  • The Steve Morgan Foundation is pledging £1 million per week to charities in Merseyside, Cheshire and North Wales. Details here, apply here.

  • The National Emergencies Trust is making funding available through local community organisations – find yours here.

  • The Yapp Charitable Trust offers grants for core funding to registered charities with a total annual expenditure of less than £40,000. Guidelines here, apply here.

  • The John Lewis Partnership has created a £1m Community Support Fund, which will be available to communities across the UK to help those in need in their local communities. Teams in each Waitrose shop will work together with their communities to choose the best way to use the fund.

  • CAF has launched a fund to help smaller charitable organisations affected by the impact of Covid-19. Grants of up to £10,000 are available to registered charities, not-for-profit organisations, and social enterprises anywhere in the UK that had income of £1 million or less in their last financial year. Details and apply here.

  • Reason Digital has compiled a workbook on digital fundraising for small charities, which can be downloaded here.

Statutory and related guidance

The Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (England only) make amendments to 10 sets of Regulations to relax and amend requirements imposed under them. The amendments are being made in order to assist the children’s social care sector during the coronavirus pandemic. They came into force on 24 April 2020 and cease to have effect on 25 September 2020. Amongst other changes, they remove the duty on adoption agencies to refer cases to the adoption panel, make some amendments to the adopter approval process, to enable information that currently has to be collected during stage 1 of the approval process to be collected during stage 2, and relax some timescales within which adoption agencies must take steps. Read the Regulations here, and the explanatory note here.

The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 came into force on 7 April 2020.  Read the Act here, general guidance here, and detailed guidance on the changes to services for looked-after children and children's hearings here.

The Department for Education has published:

    The Welsh government has published guidance on children's services during the pandemic.

    The Department of Health (Northern Ireland) has published a draft policy on social work supervision during the pandemicThe final draft of the policy will be informed by social workers’ experiences of providing supervision in different ways during this time and a final consultation will take place when normal business resumes.

    The Charity Commission has published coronavirus guidance for the voluntary sector, including guidance on using reserves, postponing AGMs, and holding meetings digitally. They have also published guidance for trustees, especially those in smaller charities, on managing financial difficulties caused by the pandemic. 

    Effective 24 March, the DBS ID checking guidance has been temporarily updated to allow ID documents to be viewed over video link and scanned images to be used in advance of the DBS check being submitted. This should only be in urgent cases where it is not possible to follow the normal identity checking guidelines. The applicant must still present the original versions of these documents when you first see them face-to-face. If you have questions, please email [email protected].

    The Cabinet Office has published a Procurement Policy Note (PPN) which asks all contracting public authorities to:

    • Urgently review their contracts and inform suppliers who they believe are at risk that they will continue to be paid as normal (even if service delivery is disrupted or temporarily suspended) until at least the end of June.
    • Put in place the most appropriate payment measures to support supplier cash flow; for example, forward ordering, payment in advance/prepayment, interim payments and payment on order (not receipt).
    • Make payment on the basis of previous invoices (for example, the average monthly payment over the previous three months) where the contract involves payment by results.
    • Ensure invoices submitted by suppliers are paid immediately on receipt (reconciliation can take place in slower time) in order to maintain cash flow in the supply chain and protect jobs.

    The DfE has published ASF guidance to clarify expectations for therapies that will be delayed into the new financial year due to the coronavirus.

    The Courts and Tribunals Judiciary has published and is regularly updating this page with advice and guidance on the operation of the courts during the pandemic.

    The LGA has published guidance for commissioners on working with children's services providers during the pandemic. The LGA says, 'The guidance deals with potential actions for commissioners, but we recognise that they will be working with their providers on a collaborative basis to identify issues and agree actions and mutual expectations. We expect providers to participate in these discussions in a meaningful way that puts the needs of children and young people at the heart of decision-making and recognises the need for strong collaboration between councils and providers.'

    Public sector commissioners in Greater Manchester have put out a statement in which they commit to doing everything they can to support the voluntary sector. This is a great example of statutory bodies working in partnership with the VCSE sector.

    Adoption, social work, children's social care, and charities

    Ofsted is regularly updating information and guidance here.

    The Care Inspectorate (Scotland) is keeping this page updated with guidance and information.

    CoramBAAF is keeping this page updated with advice and guidance for adoption and fostering.

    NCVO has pulled together a list of helpful information and resources here.

    The Theraplay Institute has issued this statement, which clarifies that:

    • There are to be no in-person Theraplay trainings or events until April 30 at the very earliest
    • The Theraplay Institute recommends either: 1) doing parent support sessions online or 2) providing virtual Theraplay sessions to parent and child online by guiding the parent and child through the activities and even doing the activities simultaneously while online.

    Children England is helpfully keeping this page up to date with information for the voluntary sector, including funding opportunities.

    ADCS is regularly updating a spreadsheet of children's services guidance and practice that can be downloaded here.

    CELCIS (University of Strathclyde, Glasgow) has compiled a hub of information and resources on children's care and protection.

    The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory is compiling resources on this page.

    * NEW* NSPCC is keeping this briefing up to date with information and guidance for social workers.

    Research in Practice has created a hub of resources on social care practice during the pandemic.

    LGA has made available this briefing on education and children's services.

    Youth Work Support has created a bank of resources for youth workers and young people.

    BASW is keeping this page updated with the latest information relating to coronavirus and social work.

    CPAG (Child Poverty Action Group) are keeping this resource bank updated with information about the impact of coronavirus on benefits.

    CFAB (Children and Families Across Borders) has issued guidance on safely arranging assessments of family members in other countries.

    Cafcass has issued guidance for children and families, including advice on how to co-parent during coronavirus and a list of FAQs.

    SCIE (Social Care Institute for Excellence) is keeping this page updated with information and resources related to adult and children’s social care. They have also published guidance on safeguarding during the pandemic.

    CFG (Charity Finance Group) are keeping a regularly updated coronavirus guide on their website.

    NAVCA have put together a coronavirus resource hub with all kinds of useful information, including on home working, tech offers for charities, staff wellbeing, governance, and legislation.

    Helplines

    The Charity Commission has asked any organisation with concerns about filing their annual return by the deadline to contact them. More information here. You can contact them at 0300 066 9197. Opening hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.

    The DfE has launched a helpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education, schools, FE, HE, early years settings and children’s social care. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline on 0800 046 8687 or at [email protected]. Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday).

    If you are concerned about paying your tax due to coronavirus, you can call HMRC’s helpline for help and advice: 0800 0159 559. More information here.

    If you would like HR support, NCVO members have unlimited access to Croner’s Business Support Helpline at 0844 561 8133. More information here.

    Organisational management

    *NEW* NSPCC Learning has published a guide to recruiting, vetting, and starting new staff and volunteers during the pandemic. 

    *NEW* Bates Wells has published an analysis of the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill 2020, which is anticipated to come into force by the end of June (subject to successful passage through Parliament). The Bill introduces measures, such as amendments to insolvency law and relaxation of requirements around AGMs, to help organisations potentially avoid insolvency due to the financial pressures imposed by the pandemic.

    Civil Society Consulting has compiled an enormously helpful briefing on 'surviving and thriving in a post-Covid-19 environment'. The briefing includes:

    • A summary of the immediate impact of Covid-19 on the charity and faith social action sectors;
    • A summary of key funders’ reactions; plus a table of the latest list of funds available to help with crisis support;
    • Suggestions for both short and medium-term strategic and operational thinking and planning in the wake of Covid-19;
    • Five tips on resilience.

    Ladbrook Insurance has published a guide to the insurance implications of the pandemic, including a section that considers some of the potential changes to your activities, how insurance will respond to the current crisis, and a discussion of business interruption policies.

    Hempsons have published a quick overview of the uncertainties around the furlough scheme when it comes to charities, including a short discussion of assessing the risks if you do decide to furlough staff.

    Martin Lewis (of MoneySavingExpert.com) has published a brief explainer of the furlough scheme, though it is primarily intended for small businesses rather than charities.

    Acas (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) have published a template furlough agreement letter for organisations to use in the event of furloughing staff.

    Children England has circulated this article to provide some guidance on what the current situation could mean for your ability to claim insurance. The article explores how the courts might interpret different forms of ‘force majeure’ clauses and how you might be able to prove ‘frustration’ of your contract.

    Our Frontline is offering 24/7 one-to-one support for key workers by text or call, along with tips, tools, and resources for looking after your mental health. 

    Surveys and intelligence-gathering

    NCVO has partnered with the Institute of Fundraising, Charity Finance Group and ACEVO to help the government understand what the easing of lockdown restrictions means for charities and volunteering. Please complete this form to let them know what practical issues lifting lockdown might raise for your organisation.

    A coalition of charities including Children England, UNICEF UK, and Action for Children are asking professionals who work with children and families to complete this survey and let them know the challenges you are facing. Information from the survey will be shared with key people (including government representatives) relevant to the provision of children’s services, and to used write briefings and reports on issues relating to the provision of children’s services which will be made publicly available.

    NAVCA is asking charities to complete this short survey on the impact of COVID - 19 on the finances and staffing of charities and the potential impact on end beneficiaries.

    NCVO, ACEVO, and a number of other umbrella bodies are running a brief survey to help charities get support from the business community in responding to the coronavirus. If you complete the survey, a representative from the most relevant partner organisation will follow up with you to discuss how they can help. Take the survey here.

    Home-Start, The Parent Infant Foundation, Best Beginnings, and the Maternal Mental Health Alliance want to hear from parents of very young children about their experiences of parenting during the pandemic. More information and take the survey here.

    The young leaders of Children England's ChildFair State project are designing a vision for the future Welfare State through the eyes of children and young people. They are keen to hear about what really matters to children and young people themselves via this quick survey.

    Community Care is calling for social workers in England to complete this short survey on their experience of social care during the pandemic.

    Schools

    *NEW* The Anna Freud Centre has published a practical guide for supporting students during periods of change, transition, or disruption. 

    England

    • *NEW* Schools in England will begin to reopen from 1 June. All guidance and information relating to schools in England can be found here.

    Wales

    • Schools are now shut except for vulnerable children and children whose parents are ‘critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.’ As in England, the full list includes ‘social workers’ and ‘charities and workers delivering key frontline services’.
    • All updates on coronavirus and education settings can be found here.

    Scotland

    • *NEW* The Scottish Government has announced that schools will begin to reopen on 11 August, subject to scientific advise that this is safe. 
    • Schools are now shut except for vulnerable children and children of ‘key workers’.
    • The government has broadly defined key workers here, and has left it up to LAs to prioritise critical childcare and learning for key workers accordingly. If in doubt, please contact your LA.
    • Exams have been cancelled.

    Northern Ireland

    • Schools are now shut except for vulnerable children and children of ‘key workers’.
    • The government has broadly defined ‘key workers’ here, and included ‘social workers’ as well as ‘staff required to maintain our health and social care sector’.
    • You can read the Education Minister’s statement here.

    For parents and carers

    *NEW* ThinkUKnow has six websites for different age groups, parents/carers, and professionals about staying safe online.

    *NEW* NSPCC Learning has published resources for parents and carers on online safety during the pandemic.

    Family Rights Group have published a ‘top tips guide’ for kinship carers which sets out how organisations and carers can help children maintain relationships with those they care about, and who care about them, even if they can’t have direct face to face visits.

    Family Rights Group’s telephone advice service is continuing to operate and can be reached on 0808 801 0366. This service is for families involved with children’s services, including parents whose children are in need, at risk, in the care system, or in any placement including SGO and adoption.

    Adoption UK are regularly updating this page with resources and guidance for adoptive families.

    BBC Bitesize has educational resources, including podcasts, videos, lesson ideas, and more, for all ages.

    The National Education Union, which represents school staff in England and Wales, are keeping this website up to date with information, advice, and learning resources.

    Single Parents on Holiday have compiled this list of advice for single parents during lockdown.

    South London and Maudsley NHS Trust has created LDCoronavirusResources, a website of resources for people with learning disabilities and those who work with or care for them.