The Government advice is that children under the age of 18 will be permitted to move between their parents’ households during this period of lockdown. The logistics surrounding this will require some fine tuning. It will also call upon families to work sensibly and co-operatively with each other to manage the situation effectively.
Where either the child, a parent or any other person living in that household has become unwell both parents should discuss with one another (remotely) what sensible arrangements should be made. In such circumstances, the sensible thing to do is to suspend the child moving from one household to the other until the whole household has self-isolated in line with the Government guidance. Once the period of self-isolation has been completed, the pre-existing care arrangements can resume.
Supported and supervised contact is currently suspended by those services who facilitate and provide support. As a result, it may not be possible for contact to continue at the present time.
Both parents should discuss what arrangements should be put in place for children living with key workers, particularly those working on the front-line. Difficult decisions will need to be made about how care arrangements should operate for those circumstances having regard to what is in the best interests of the child. Decisions should be made based on what is best for the child in accordance with the Government guidance, but any proposed changes to care arrangements must be communicated and discussed between parents.
Again, a child who is considered vulnerable on health grounds should be treated in accordance with the Government guidance. This may mean that the child needs to stay in one household only. Communicating this effectively between parents is key to ensuring that everyone understands why that decision needs to be made and kept under constant review as the situation changes.
The Government message is quite clear – it is calling on every individual to act sensibly. Communication between parents is more vital than ever. Children need to feel supported by both parents to deal with the present situation and provided with reassurance that this situation will not last forever.
If face to face contact is not an option for any of the reasons set out above, there are other ways to ensure that the relationship between the child and both parents continue. There are a number of apps which allow video calls such as Skype, Facetime and Houseparty (to name a few!). Photos and videos can continue to be shared between households. Both parents are responsible for ensuring that each of them can continue to be involved in the child’s day to day life – who wouldn’t want to share the pains of home schooling?!
More than ever families are being asked to make sensible, unselfish decisions, but everyone should feel part of whatever decision is made for a child to keep everybody safe.