Report launched into children’s social work in pandemic

New Social Work in a Pandemic report reflects on local authority experiences in an 18-month period during the pandemic, making recommendations on how to move forward and what advice we should follow for future pandemics.

Funded by the Department for Education and led by Essex County Council, with involvement from five other local authorities, the report explores the challenges faced by children’s social work teams.

Findings from the report include that social work is about building relationships to change children’s lives, and because of that, social workers put the children and families they worked with first even during the crisis period.

To ensure they completed this task safely, they needed access to good quality PPE and risk assessments, balancing the risk of infection with the risk of abuse and neglect.

two toddler playing letter cubes

Where face-to-face work can’t be completed effectively, social workers need access to home office equipment, the right IT tools for virtual and hybrid meetings, as well as the children and families they’re supporting access to the right IT equipment and wi-fi to access these services.

The report also touched on mental health, with Essex County Council’s Children and Families function finding it best to maintain up to 60% of staff in the office on any single day to keep up mental wellbeing. There were a variety of different approaches taken by different authorities to support their staff during this time, with newly qualified staff often needing extra support, and some social workers unable to work from home.

Councillor Beverley Egan, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Early Years said about the report: ‘My thanks to all the partners that contributed and worked together to produce this honest and open reflection on their experiences during the early part of the pandemic. The lessons learnt will help direct us through the next stages of the pandemic, change practices in the future and enable us to be better prepared and more effective.”


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