“As soon as the [coronavirus] crisis hit, we realised that this basic human need to connect with people we cared about was likely to be affected by restrictions,” says Lisa Harker, director of the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory, which aims to improve the evidence for decision-making in the family justice system.
“The abrupt halt to face-to-face time with their families overnight will have had an immense psychological impact on vulnerable children,” she adds.
Face-to-face contact between children in care and their families was the first thing to stop after lockdown, as well as final contact sessions between birth parents and young children about to be adopted. As family courts were closed, almost all cases were heard remotely, raising concerns that legal proceedings to take at-risk children into care would not be robust or fair.
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