A Holyrood committee has urged groups that look after vulnerable children and young people to provide insight into supporting them during the coronavirus crisis.
Clare Adamson, convener of the Education and Skills Committee, has written to organisations to ask for their input into its inquiry.
In the letter, she has asked questions on the provision of free school meals, monitoring of attendance and progress, the process of child protection and support for those with additional support needs.
A spokesman for the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition, which was consulted by the committee, welcomed the inquiry, saying: “It is vital that action is quickly taken to assess the requirements of these vulnerable children and young people and adequate support is provided.”
Holyrood committees are to meet virtually following a change to parliamentary rules, although there has been no date set for the first meeting of the Education and Skills Committee.
Ms Adamson wrote: “The committee knows that different children will have different support needs.
“For some attending a school or childcare setting would be best, for others targeted support in a home setting is best, for others it will be a combination of the two.
“Pressures on local authorities and all other organisations with a role to play will impact on what support can be provided.
“The committee also knows there has been a need to quickly adapt approaches to reflect social distancing and an increased need for support,
and that the challenge of co-ordinating all of this support has been massive.”
In a letter to Education Secretary John Swinney informing him of the committee’s work, Ms Adamson said the committee wants to ensure its does not “burden” local authorities or third-sector organisations with requests for information.
Instead, she requested the Scottish Government provide details on school attendance and free school meals since the start of the lockdown protocols, along with other information already being collected from local authorities.
Joanna Barrett, policy and public affairs manager for NSPCC Scotland, said: “We are profoundly aware that the current lockdown is increasing the risk of harm to some children, especially those with additional support needs and those living in families already struggling to cope.
“We also understand that in Scotland, as elsewhere in the UK, child protection referrals have dropped and attendance of vulnerable children at school is extremely low.
“It is, therefore, crucial that in Scotland we urgently focus on these children and assess how we can work together to reach and support them before it is too late, and that no child remains invisible in these extremely challenging and unprecedented times.”
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