Supports for families during COVID-19

Introduction

The COVID-19 emergency has had a big impact on families across Ireland. With schools, crèches and most workplaces closed, many families are struggling to adjust to the loss of a regular routine.

This document aims to provide an overview of the guidance and support services available to parents and their children during this difficult period. It includes information on:

  • Home-schooling resources
  • Advice for supporting your children’s mental health
  • Support services for parents
  • Resources for children and teenagers
  • Resources for people with a disability
  • Domestic abuse and crisis contacts

You can also read about:

Home-schooling resources

Schools will remain shut until at least September, and many parents have had to adapt to the demands of supporting their children’s studies from home.

You children’s teachers have probably provided lessons online or on paper that can be completed at home, but you may be struggling to give your child or children the structure and support they need at this time. You may also be trying to work from home, and balancing work and family commitments can be very stressful.

What help is available?

Several State agencies and community and voluntary groups have produced resources to help children and young people learn from home during the COVID-19 emergency period. Many education publishers have also made learning materials free to access online.

Parents Centre, a new website developed by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, aims to provide parents with high-quality, trusted information and support during the COVID-19 emergency. This includes information to help children learn from home and advice on how to look after their wellbeing.

The Department of Education and Skills has also published useful tips for parents who are home-schooling during the COVID-19 emergency.

A range of online library services is available during the emergency period, such as Askaboutireland.ie and Enfo.ie, which provide eBooks, eAudiobooks, and online learning resources. The Department of Rural and Community Development has also launched the ‘Spring into Storytime’ initiative to support families reading together during the COVID-19 emergency.

RTÉ and TG4 broadcast daily classes for English and Irish-speaking primary school students on free-to-air television, and there are a variety of online resources available to meet the leaning needs of children and young people of all ages.

Resources for primary school children

First5.gov.ie: a Government website providing information and resources on supporting children under 6 with their feelings and encouraging learning and play at home.

Aistearsiolta.ie: a Government website providing tip sheets for parents on how to help young children learn and develop at home.

Let's Play Ireland: a Government-led initiative aimed at promoting play for all children living in Ireland during the COVID-19 emergency. In addition to detailing a variety of individual and group-based activities, Let’s Play Ireland provides links and resources to a range of organisations offering constructive activities for young people during the emergency period.

An Garda Síochána's Children's Corner: free resources for younger members of the public who like to colour-in, have some fun and find out more about An Garda Síochána along the way. The website also features information about how children can stay safe online and what to do if they are being cyber-bullied.

Go Noodle: free movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts.

Scratch: free resources to help children learn to programme interactive games, stories and animations.

National Geographic Kids: free resources to help children learn about science, geography and history.

NASA Kids Club: free resource where children can learn about science and space.

Resources for secondary school children

Scoilnet.ie: operated by the Department of Education and Skills, students, parents and teachers can access over 20,000 resources shared by primary and post-primary teachers free of charge.

Folensonline.ie: Folens, the education publisher, have opened up access to all their digital resources on FolensOnline for teachers, parents and students at both primary and post-primary level.

Edcolearning.ie: the education publisher, Edco has made ebooks for primary, Junior Cert and Leaving Cert available online for free. To get the username name and password to access them, see the pinned tweet at twitter.com/edco_ie.

GillExplore.ie: the education publisher, Gill Education, is making their online education resources for primary and post-primary students available free of charge, including ebooks, podcasts, games and puzzles.

CJFallon.ie: the education publisher, is providing free access to all of its online textbooks for primary and post-primary students until the end of the academic year.

Studynotes.ie: students and teachers can use this free platform to share their study notes and resources.

Khan Academy: a non-profit site which provides free video tutorials in maths and reading for students aged 2-18.

Supporting your children’s mental health

Parents Centre provides a range of resources to advise parents on how to look after their children’s mental and emotional well-being during the COVID-19 emergency period. The Department of Education and Skills’ National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) has also published advice on how to talk to children and young people about COVID-19 and guidance on how to support your child in developing a daily routine.

TUSLA, the Child and Family Agency, provides guidance to assist parents in supporting their children through everyday challenges associated with current public health restrictions. UNICEF has also issued advice on how to protect your family’s mental health during COVID-19.

Similar guidance and advice can be accessed through:

The Irish Childhood Bereavement Network, in partnership with the Irish Hospice Foundation, has also developed specific resources to help parents support a grieving child or young person in these exceptional times. Barnardos, Ireland children's charity, also provide a children's bereavement helpline service; telephone 01 473 2110, 10am to 12pm Monday to Thursday.

Support services for parents

Barnardos is providing telephone support for parents in response to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Freephone 1800 910 123 from 10am to 2pm Monday to Friday.

Parentline is a free, national, confidential helpline that offers parents support, information and guidance on all aspects of being a parent and any parenting issues. Telephone 1890 927 277, 10am to 9pm Monday to Thursday, and 10am to 4pm on Friday.

National Parents Council, a charitable organisation that assists parents in supporting childhood leaning, operates a helpline that can presently be contacted by email at helpline@npc.ie.

One Family, the national support organisation for lone parents, responds to comments and queries submitted through its ‘Contact Us’ page and has published a suite of COVID-19 resources for parents.

Treoir, the National Federation of Services for Unmarried Parents and their Children, provides a call-back service to support parents.

Aware provides support services which are available to individuals managing their own experience of depression or bipolar disorder, as well as to people who are concerned about a loved one. Freephone Aware's Support Line. Available Monday to Sunday from 10am - 10pm on 1800 80 48 48. The service can also be contacted by email at supportmail@aware.ie.

Shine supports people with mental health issues. If you are in distress or seeking information you can contact Shine at any time for confidential support at phil@shineonline.ie. All emails are viewed and responded to by trained psychotherapists.

Resources for children and teenagers

This is a difficult time for children and young people.

The HSE has issued detailed guidance for young people on how to look after your mental health during the COVID-19 emergency period. Similarly, the Ombudsman for Children’s Office has put together information on COVID-19 for children.

The NEPS has developed advice and resources to help young people maintain positive mental health while schools are closed, including a podcast detailing relaxation methods. The Department of Education and Skills has also developed resources to support young people during the emergency period.

Turn2me Youth, a free online mental health service for people aged 12-18, provides a range of information, including articles, podcasts and videos, as well as online support services. UNICEF, meantime, has published 6 strategies for teens facing a new (temporary) normal.

Additionally, there are a range of support services available to children and young people throughout the country:

Childline (ISPCC) is Ireland's 24-hour national listening service for young people up to the age of 18. Freephone 1800 666 666 any time. Text 50101 from 10am to 4pm every day and chat online from 10am to 4pm every day.

Teenline (ISPCC) is a national active listening service for children and young people up to the age of 18. The service can be contacted 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by calling 1800 833 634. Teenline is free to contact and is confidential, non-directive and non-judgmental.

Jigsaw offers mental health support and advice to young people aged 12 to 25 years old and parents or concerned adults. Freephone 1800 544729 from 1pm to 5pm Monday to Friday. Text CALL ME to 086 180 3880 with your preferred day and time to arrange a call-back, or email help@jigsaw.ie - replies 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

Spunout.ie, Ireland’s youth information website, provides information for young people on many different topics including mental health. Text ‘SPUNOUT’ to 086 1800 280 to talk to a trained volunteer - standard message rates may apply. Spunout.ie has also published useful tips on how to handle exam stress during the COVID-19 emergency.

Empowering People in Care (EPIC), a national voluntary organisation working with and for children and young adults who are currently in care or who have experience of being in care, have set up a new Advocacy Phone Support Service for children in care and care leavers open Tuesdays & Thursdays, 2-4 pm on 01-9631272. You can also request a call-back from an Advocacy Officer by texting 087-9036598 or submit an Advocacy Referral form online.

Resources for people with a disability

The Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) has published a list of Frequently Asked Questions and aggregated a collection of useful resources to help people with disabilities cope in light of present public health restrictions. People in need of additional guidance or support are advised to contact the DFI directly by email at info@disability-federation.ie.

AsIAm, the national autism charity and advocacy organisation, has compiled a range of online resources to help people with autism and their families cope with the massive changes in routine, services and social situations effected by the COVID-19 emergency.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has published resources for parents seeking to home-school their children during the COVID-19 emergency. It includes resources for autism, speech and language therapy and occupational therapy.

The HSE, in collaboration with service providers in the voluntary sector, have published approved guidance for disability service providers, including information on methods of accessible and friendly communication for children and adults who have an intellectual disability or autism.

Support services

The DFI indicate that people who have a disability and require additional support during COVID-19 should contact:

Domestic abuse and crisis contacts

Domestic abuse is violence or another form of abuse by a person against another person that they are, or were, in an intimate relationship with. The abuse may be physical, sexual, psychological, emotional or financial. Domestic abuse can affect children and other family members.

If you feel in immediate danger, call 112 or 999 as soon as it is safe to do so. The Gardaí are specially trained to deal with these situations.

Domestic abuse applications will continue to be given priority in the Court system, so if a protection or interim barring order is needed, you can still come to court.

Many organisations have extended and adapted their services during the COVID-19 pandemic due to increased demand for support. You can access a full list of domestic abuse support services.

You can read more about Family law and COVID-19.

If you are concerned about elder abuse, you can call the HSE helpline on 1850 24 1850, Monday to Saturday – 8am to 8pm. If you feel in immediate danger, you should contact the Garda. For further information please consult the HSE’s website on elder abuse or visit Safeguarding Ireland.

Further Information

You can get detailed information on Ireland's response to COVID-19 and the latest updates on gov.ie.

There are a variety of services available to help families through the COVID-19 emergency. Notably, the Government’s ‘In This Together’ campaign provides guidance and information on a range of issues concerning families, from tips on how to cope together at home, to advice on staying active and eating healthily.

Page edited: 20 May 2020