‘Tragic human cost’: The children in care left behind by coronavirus

During lockdown, children in care and the children of prisoners are banned from seeing their parents. The toll this is taking on an entire generation is inhumane… and totally avoidable, writes Molly Mulready

<p>Separation from a parent in childhood brings with it a raft of ill-effects in later life</p>

Separation from a parent in childhood brings with it a raft of ill-effects in later life

Lockdown has been a difficult time for many. While the plight of elderly people in care homes has rightly been the focus of much political controversy, the suffering of children in care and the children of prisoners has been all but overlooked. 

Since the start of the first lockdown in March, some social workers and prisons made the decision to end all physical contact between parents and their children. Family members who raised objections were pointed to “government guidelines” which supposedly prohibited this contact – they did no such thing. In fact, the guidelines put in place in March mandated an individualised approach for children in care – and, given the complexity of each individual case, rightly so. 

For foster carers with underlying medical conditions, for example, a pause in physical contact between children they care for and people from other households was sensible; but what the guidelines did not mandate was that children in care should be subject to a blanket policy and stopped from having all physical contact with their parents.  

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