New Scottish Government report on the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable children and young people

Date: 11th June 2020
Category: Basic Health and Welfare, Education, Leisure and Cultural Activities, Civil Rights and Freedoms, Family Environment and Alternative Care


The report includes data about the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on vulnerable children and families in Scotland in the initial weeks of the ‘lockdown’, and the way that services adapted and responded to the crisis.

It builds on an earlier report published in April 2020.

The new report, published on 27th May, shows:

  • Three quarters of all children with a support plan were in contact with services and professionals each week.
  • Around half of all young people eligible for aftercare were contacted by a professional in the two weeks prior to publication.
  • The number of vulnerable children attending education hubs increased after the Easter break, at more than four times the previous level, albeit these are still relatively low numbers and subject to considerable variation between authorities.
  • A number of local authorities maintained some dedicated education support for children with disabilities. Some residential schools and independent schools were still providing residential provision for children and young people with additional support needs.
  • Over 168,000 meals were being provided daily (with 122,000 children entitled to free school meals) largely through vouchers and direct payments. However, there is a lack of evidence into how agencies are addressing the needs of families who are newly vulnerable due to the financial impacts of COVID-19.
  • There has been a reduction in referrals to social work services during the lockdown period which is likely linked to the reduction in contact with young people and children through schools and other services. In addition, despite the increase of stressors placed on families and children from COVID-19, this has not led to the increased number of requests for social work support.
  • Referrals to the Children's Hearing System fell in the period from 23rd March – 5th May, compared to the same period last year:
    • Total Referrals reduced from 3043 (2019) to 2296 (2020) – a decrease of 23%
    • Non-Offence Referrals reduced from 2044 (2019) to 1485 (2020) – a decrease of 27%
    • Offence referrals reduced from 661 (2019) 548 (2020) –a decrease of 17%
    • Joint Referrals to COPFS/SCRA decreased by 22%
  • Conversely, the number of Child Protection Orders in the last week of April showed a 38% increase from the 2019 level.
  • Domestic abuse services continue to indicate an increase in abusive behaviour and agencies report that women and children are struggling to access services, particularly those that usually offer face-to-face provision.

Read more about the recent vulnerable children report here

Read the previous report published by Scottish Government here