Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for children's social care services

Advice about coronavirus (COVID-19) for local authorities and their partners to help support and protect vulnerable children.



This guidance is for:

  • local authorities
  • those who have corporate parenting responsibilities
  • local safeguarding partnerships
  • social workers
  • residential care providers and staff

It should be read alongside:

Published 3 April 2020
Last updated 19 July 2021 + show all updates
  1. This guidance has been updated to confirm the position on tracing close contacts from Step 4, to reinstate a section on residential provision that was removed from the previous version (there are no policy changes) and to update the name only of 'Amendments from 24 September 2020 to existing regulations' to 'Amendments from 31 March 2021 to existing regulations'. We have also republished in HTML format and have removed advice that no longer applies.

  2. Updated guidance with additions to Overview and risk assessment, Independent living and Testing for care staff and foster carers, and amendments to Principles, Legislation and regulations, Visitor testing, Support for children, Virtual visits, Educational settings, Out of school settings, Multi-agency, Fostering, Adoption, Court orders and other content.

  3. Converted 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for children's social care services' from pdf to HTML. The guidance has not changed since it was last updated on 12 May 2021.

  4. Updated with guidance for supporting children’s care homes in the management of visitor testing, safeguarding in out of school settings and youth clubs, and keeping residential settings safe from coronavirus (COVID-19).

  5. Updated 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for children's social care services'.

  6. Updated with latest advice on shielding for clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) children.

  7. Update to guidance on asymptomatic testing expansion for foster carers and staff of open residential children’s homes.

  8. We have updated this guidance to reflect the extension to existing regulatory flexibilities up to 30 September 2021. We have also updated information on Ofsted inspections and fees.

  9. Updated the 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for children's social care services' with information about pupils attending school from 8 March.

  10. Updated sections on 'Educational settings' and 'Alternative provision (AP) schools and providers' within the main guidance document.

  11. Updated to reflect national restrictions guidance, including school attendance and provision, risk assessments, alternative provision, respite care and Ofsted inspections.

  12. Updated the ‘Educational settings’ and ‘Alternative provision (AP) schools and providers’ sections in 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for children's social care services' to reflect changes to the contingency framework and mass testing.

  13. Updated the Educational settings section to reflect Tier 4 guidance.

  14. Change to the isolation period from 14 days to 10 days from the day after the individual tested positive.

  15. Updated sections on support for foster families, access to respite care, short break services, restrictions on visitors in residential settings and mental health of looked-after children and care leavers. This is to reflect the new local restriction tiers which will come into force on 2 December 2020.

  16. Indicated which sections of the guidance are affected by the new national restrictions (5 November to 2 December 2020).

  17. Added a link to the guidance on national restrictions from 5 November.

  18. Updated 'Vulnerable children attendance at educational settings' section of 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for children's social care services'.

  19. Updated to reflect that the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 have expired, the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 and the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2020 - the rule of 6.

  20. Updated to include new provisional guidance on the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) (No 2) Regulations 2020, which come into force on 25 September 2020. The update to existing guidance reflects the latest changes on social distancing and shielding and that schools, colleges and nurseries will fully reopen in the autumn term.

  21. Updated the section ‘How is the Get Help with Technology initiative helping children’s social care during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic?’ of ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for children's social care services’.

  22. Updated the amendments to regulations section of the guidance for children's social care services.

  23. We have updated this guidance to clarify that all primary and most secondary legislation remains unchanged and that we have made temporary and time-limited amendments to secondary legislation. We have added content on missing children, testing, technology initiatives and social care services for disabled children and young people and their families. We have also revised the sections on court, fostering and adoption to provide further information.

  24. Guidance updated to reflect the temporary changes made in the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020.

  25. First published.