The COVID-19 pandemic and associated response measures have led to unprecedented challenges for service providers working with vulnerable children and families around the world.
The goal of the present study was to better understand the impact of the pandemic and associated response measures on vulnerable children and families and provide data-informed recommendations for public and private service providers working with this population.
Participants and Setting
Representatives from 87 non-government organizations (NGOs) providing a variety of direct services (i.e. residential care, family preservation, foster care, etc.) to 454,637 vulnerable children and families in 43 countries completed a brief online survey.
Using a mixed methods design, results examined 1) ways in which children and families have been directly impacted by COVID-19, 2) the impact of the pandemic on services provided by NGOs, 3) government responses and gaps in services for this population during the pandemic, and 4) strategies that have been effective in filling these gaps.
Data revealed that the pandemic and restrictive measures were associated with increased risk factors for vulnerable children and families, including not having access to vital services. The NGOs experienced government restrictions, decreased financial support, and inability to adequately provide services. Increased communication and supportive activities had a positive impact on both NGO staff and the families they serve.
Based on the findings, ten recommendations were made for service providers working with vulnerable children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic.