As a response to COVID-19 the population of England was asked to stay at home and work from there wherever possible. This included those working in children’s social care (CSC) who have responsibility for child protection and other safeguarding duties.
The study was designed to understand how CSC made the transition from being an office-based agency to one where the majority of social workers were based at home and to understand how CSC perceived the impact on children and their families. Participants and setting Senior members of CSC staff in 15 local authorities took part in the research in June 2020.
Nine interviews were conducted by video call, three by telephone, and three consisted of initial written responses that were then followed by telephone calls.
Service delivery had been maintained across all the authorities with most visits being made virtually after assessments of risk had been conducted on all cases. Multiagency working had improved, with greater involvement of general practitioners and paediatricians. Overall activity in CSC had been lower than normal but as lockdown eased this was changing. Concerns were expressed about how to manage the response that would be required to meet the expected level of harm that had occurred but been hidden.
Responses to COVID-19 prompted widespread innovation and it will be an imperative to evaluate which initiatives have worked for children and families, as well as practitioners, and which should be discarded, sustained or reshaped.