Child Welfare and Justice Agencies Report Challenges in Context of COVID-19

July 23, 2020 | NCCD

Video call - mom and baby

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the media have regularly reported a shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE)—so critical for health care workers. A recent NCCD survey of child welfare and justice system agencies found the same problem across all groups of respondents: Limited PPE posed a significant challenge to their work.

NCCD’s survey of agency responses to the pandemic was open for eight weeks beginning in March and eventually garnered 185 responses from 20 states and Australia. Half of the responses came from probation and parole agencies and 38% from child welfare agencies. The remaining 12% of responses represented criminal and juvenile justice residential facilities.

Along with limited PPE, insufficient staffing due to self-quarantine and limited in-person contact with clients were cited by respondents as challenges to their work. To address these challenges, agencies reported increased check-ins with clients by phone and relaxed contact standards, among other solutions.

The survey also asked about client groups most affected by the pandemic. Not surprisingly, respondents said clients with substance abuse issues were having the most difficulty, along with homeless people, undocumented people, and lower-income people with limited access to technology.

In response to the survey results, NCCD has developed a list of recommendations for child welfare and justice agencies as this health crisis continues. Survey results and those recommendations can be found here. A summary of survey responses is available here.

For links to a host of NCCD resources developed during the pandemic, click here.