James Thomas, chief executive of Doncaster Children’s Services Trust (DCST) said the coronavirus lockdown was linked to an increase in domestic violence and a secondary aspect of more kids being referred into social care systems.
Latest figures from the trust show demand has led to increased activity across all social care services with 942 assessments – a 29 per cent increase – comparing the same period last year.
The number of ‘children in need’ stands at 2,511 at a rate of 377 per 10,000. This has increased by 13 per cent children compared to the same period last year but a slight decrease on the previous quarter.
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Mr Thomas said: “Nationally, but also in Doncaster, we’ve seen increases in referrals in the autumn, and an increase in the proportion relating to domestic violence.
“We think the hypothesis, and this is a national one, is about just the long term impact of lockdown of families being in close connection with each other and other protective factors, is one of the reasons why domestic violence referrals have increased and the police would reflect on that as well.
“We’ve changed our domestic violence response to how we assess those needs, upskilling our workforce to be more responsive to that and working as a stronger partnership.
“We sometimes see those presentations into the trust, because children are living within those situations. What we need to do is work with our partners to make sure that an understanding of domestic violence and a broader domestic violence strategy tackles these things, head on.
“I think the pandemic will have a long tail. We need to be reflective and responsive to that. “
DCST bosses said social worker caseloads are monitored closely for ‘average/maximum values’ and the majority of workers were carrying ‘high caseloads’.
In response, the trust said it has created an additional assessment team and employed more agency social workers temporarily to bring this down.