Over the last week, there has been a great deal of activity from the Government with regards to the use of technology at home. You may be aware that for vulnerable families, the Government has committed to fund technology.
Which children and young people are eligible for a device or a router and why?
There are two groups of children and young people eligible for a device and connectivity who currently lack access:
· The first are care leavers and children who receive support from a social worker (including families with pre-school children with a social worker, as well as older children), who need to keep in touch with social care services.
· The second group are disadvantaged students who would not otherwise have access to online learning and are preparing for exams (in year 10).
Any 16 to 19 year olds in education, without a suitable device or connectivity to study remotely, and whose family cannot afford these costs, should approach their school to request support. The Government are also working with major telecommunication companies to temporarily exempt certain educational resources from data charges. More details on this will follow once the Government have made decisions.
My child qualifies for a device and connectivity at home but I don’t know how to apply for one. How can I do this?
Devices and routers will be sent to schools and children’s social care teams. They will contact you once they have the devices and routers to let you know how to access them.
There is too much pressure on broadband connections in my area – how can my child do online learning?
The Government is having regular calls with the major fixed and mobile operators, and with Ofcom, to monitor the situation and ensure that any problems on the networks are rapidly addressed and rectified.
The Government fully understands the importance of having reliable internet connectivity, particularly at this time, so that people can work from home wherever possible and access critical public services online, including health information.
Is my child at additional risk while spending more time online?
With children spending more time online to do schoolwork and other activities, there could be an additional risk. This is why it is more important than ever that children, parents and carers know how to stay safe online.
It is important that parents and carers talk to their children about online safety, show an interest in what they are doing online, and ask what they like and dislike about the apps and services they use. Discuss age appropriate ‘ground rules’ like how much time they spend online doing different things and what games and apps are appropriate to use. Also consider setting up and reviewing age appropriate parental controls. Setting parental controls can be a quick and effective tool to help protect children online.
Where can I go to get support to help keep my child safe online?
There is support available to keep your child safe online. You can access information on keeping children safe online: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-keeping-children-safe-online/coronavirus-covid-19-support-for-parents-and-carers-to-keep-children-safe-online.
Here are some useful links to help parents and carers.
· Parent Info, https://parentinfo.org/ is a collaboration between Parentzone and the NCA providing support and guidance for parents from leading experts and organisations.
· Childnet, https://www.childnet.com/parents-and-carers/parent-and-carer-toolkit provides a tool kit to support parents and carers of children of any age to start discussions about their online life, to set boundaries around online behaviour and technology use, and to find out where to get more help and support.
· Internet Matters, https://www.internetmatters.org/ provides age-specific online safety checklists, guides on how to set parental controls on a range of devices and a host of practical tips to help children get the most out of their digital world.
· LGfL, https://www.lgfl.net/online-safety/default.aspx – support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online, including 6 top tips to keep primary aged children safe online.
· Net Aware, https://www.net-aware.org.uk/ – support for parents and carers from the NSPCC, providing a guide to social networks, apps and games.
· Let’s Talk About It, https://www.ltai.info/staying-safe-online/ – support for parents and carers to keep children safe from online radicalisation.
· UK Safer Internet Centre, https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/advice-centre/parents-and-carers – tips, advice, guides and resources to help keep children safe online, including parental controls offered by home internet providers and safety tools on social networks and other online services.
· staying safe online, https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-staying-safe-online – government guidance offering advice on parental controls, fact-checking information, communicating with family and friends while social distancing is in place and taking regular breaks.
What support is available to parents to help them maintain their family’s wellbeing while their children are at home?
Social connections, alongside exercise, sleep, diet and routine, are important protective factors for mental health. Materials to promote and support mental wellbeing are included in the list of online resources we have published to help children to learn at home: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-online-education-resources/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-online-education-resources-for-home-education/.
Public Health England’s Rise Above platform: https://riseabove.org.uk/ supports young people. The Department of Health and Social Care is providing £5 million of additional funding to support mental health charities to increase their provision for adults and children at this time.
Social isolation, reduced exercise and bereavement may affect children’s wellbeing in this period. Resources to promote and support children and young people’s mental wellbeing include:
· MindEd educational resources for adults about children and young people’s mental health: https://www.minded.org.uk/ which is relevant for parents and carers as well as volunteers, teachers, and other professionals working with children.
· Every Mind Matters platform: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/ which supports looking after your own and other’s mental health.
· guidance on looking after and supporting children’s wellbeing and mental health during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-public-on-mental-health-and-wellbeing/guidance-for-the-public-on-the-mental-health-and-wellbeing-aspects-of-coronavirus-covid-19
All NHS mental health trusts are setting up 24/7 helplines and seeking to use digital and virtual channels to continue delivering support during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
We are struggling with access to Art and Craft resources. Can you help?
KCS Suppliers https://kcsconnect.co.uk/ and Specialist Crafts https://www.specialistcrafts.co.uk may be of use to you. From discussions with both companies, we know they are willing to take private orders for households and deliver art materials to your door within 3 working days. KCS and Specialist Crafts usually deliver art materials to the schools. However, they have recognised the challenging circumstances and are adapting to help pupils/students continue with their home learning; they are happy to help with keeping you fully stocked!
If, for any reason, you need help with this, please do not hesitate to let us know. We will do our very best to support you and your family.
I still do not have my Free School Meals Vouchers. What should I do?
if you have any outstanding problems or queries with Free School Meals Vouchers, please do notify your respective Headteacher, so that this can be swiftly followed up. We are aware that this is important to you and, as such, we will prioritise it.
As a family, we are struggling. What should I do?
If, for any reason, you cannot access your respective school in the timeframe you need, please use the Kent Together helpline which can be accessed 24 hours a day via www.kent.gov.uk/KentTogether and 03000 41 92 92 – this is a single point of urgent contact for anyone in Kent who is in serious need of help during the Coronavirus outbreak.