ItemChildLinks Issue 2: Children's Mental Health(Barnardos, 2020) BarnardosAccording to the World Health Organization, fear, worry and stress are normal responses to perceived or real threats, and at times when we are faced with uncertainty or the unknown. It is no wonder then that the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions have caused many of us to feel isolated, anxious and stressed. It is not just adults who have been impacted by recent events, however. Children have been particularly affected by COVID-19 as their normal day-to-day lives, including school, meeting with friends, visits to see Granny and sporting activities, have all been disrupted. Furthermore, children will be affected by what they have heard and what they understand about the threats the virus poses to health. We do not yet know the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the emotional well-being of children and adolescents, but it is important to consider the potential impact on their mental health and how these might be mitigated. The first article in this issue of ChildLinks focusing on Children’s Mental Health considers how Barnardos, in an effort to respond to the changes brought about by COVID-19, has promoted activities to help children and parents understand the connection between their bodily reactions, emotional responses and behaviours during this unprecedented time, in other words between heart, body and mind. The article outlines the aim of strategies used to expand children’s windows of tolerance, create environments in which children feel safe, and promote a connectedness for children, both with themselves and with others. The next article in this issue outlines the work of Crosscare Teen Counselling, looking specifically at family context as a significant factor when considering mental health issues of adolescents. It poses questions to consider about the COVID-19 pandemic and the potential impact it may have on adolescent mental health. With the advent of the pandemic, our world has been dominated by reports of increasing viral transmission and the mounting death toll. As adults we may feel unsure about how to approach conversations or find the words to talk about what is happening, or avoid talking with children about the situation altogether. Elizabeth Rapa and Louise Dalton from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford discuss how opening lines of communication with children about their understanding of the situation is a key component in protecting their long-term psychological health. In the next article, child therapist Louise Shanagher describes the methods she uses to introduce the practices of mindfulness and self compassion to children in creative, playful and experiential ways. We then look at Buddy Bench Ireland, an award-winning not-for-profit, evidence-led, positive mental health initiative for Irish primary school children. The final article outlines the Triple P Fear-less programme, a specialist programme that supports parents and helps them to learn new cognitive behavioural strategies for anxiety management, encouraging them to apply these themselves for all their children. ItemChildLinks Issue 1: School Age Childcare(Barnardos, 2020) BarnardosWhile the school age childcare (SAC) sector in Ireland is one of the fastest growing services provided for school-going children, it has developed in an unregulated and largely ad hoc manner. Having been overlooked for many years, things are beginning to change. Notable developments include the publication of An Action Plan for School Age Childcare in 2017 as well as enactment of policies that ensure that SAC providers register with Tusla and that enable services to avail of the National Childcare Scheme. Forthcoming National Standards for SAC are expected to provide guidance across a range of areas such as ratios, required qualifications for staff and the curriculum. At the time of publication, Governments across the world are responding to the complexity of the health, economic and social issues associated with COVID 19 and it is impossible to predict the longer-term impacts this will have on services for children and families. Future developments in SAC must, however, ensure that after a long day in school, children have the opportunity to socialise with friends, play, relax, and to participate in a wide range of cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activities. In the first article in this issue of ChildLinks, Drs Mary Moloney and Jennifer Pope from Mary Immaculate College outline findings of a research study visit to Denmark, reflecting on how SAC is organised, governed and supported in Denmark, and proposing recommendations for Irish policy makers on the on-going development of the SAC infrastructure in Ireland. Later in this issue, Dr Jennifer Cartmel of Griffith University in Queensland considers SAC in Australia, acknowledging the emerging cohort of practitioners there who are keen to support the professionalisation of the sector as well as enhanced communication and governance processes between host schools and services. In order to strive for quality in SAC we must also be sure to listen to the voice of children themselves to shape and inform regulations and quality standards developed for SAC. In the third article in this issue, Dr Deirdre Horgan from University College Cork examines government consultations with children in Ireland on school age childcare (SAC) against the background of the wider child participation agenda. Following this, an article from Barnardos considers afterschool services in Limerick South and how children and families can be best supported through interagency working. Finally, Karen Clince of Tigers Childcare considers the opportunities that school age care offers to support children’s social and emotional development, leading to better outcomes for children.