Two years on #COVID19 #socialwork #childprotection – learning from practice

For those twitterers out there, a brilliant thread by the wonderful Harry Ferguson plus … two fantastic research papers free for you to download courtesy of the British Journal of Social Work.

Social work and child protection for a post-pandemic world: the re-making of practice during COVID-19 and its renewal beyond itBy Harry FergusonLaura KellySarah Pink

Abstract: The Covid-19 pandemic presented social workers and managers in child protection with complex practical and moral dilemmas about how to respond to children and families while social distancing. This paper draws on our research into practice during the pandemic to show some of the ways social workers changed their practice and to provide theories and concepts that can help to account for how such change occurs. Drawing on anthropological uses of the concepts of ‘contingency’ and ‘improvisation’ and Hartmut Rosa’s sociological work on ‘adaptive transformation’ and ‘resonance’ we show how social workers creatively ‘re-made’ key aspects of their practice, by recognising inequalities and providing material help, through digital casework, movement and walking encounters, and by going into homes and taking risks by getting close to children and parents. It is vital that such improvisation and remaking are learned from and sustained post-pandemic as this can renew practice and enable social workers to better enhance the lives of service users.

Download: Social work and child protection for a post-pandemic world: the re-making of practice during COVID-19 and its renewal beyond it

The Unheld Child: Social Work, Social Distancing and the Possibilities and Limits to Child Protection during the COVID-19 PandemicBy Harry Ferguson,  Sarah Pink,  Laura Kelly

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic changed dramatically the ways social workers engaged with children and families. This article presents findings from our research into the effects of COVID-19 on social work and child protection in England during the first nine months of the pandemic. Our aim is to provide new knowledge to enable realistic expectations of what it was possible for social workers to achieve and particularly the limits to child protection. Such perspective has become more important than ever due to knowledge of children who died tragically from abuse despite social work involvement during the pandemic. Our research findings show how some practitioners got physically close to some children, whilst being distanced from others. We examine the dynamics that shaped closeness and distance and identify seven influences that created limits to child protection and the problem of ‘the unheld child’. The article provides new understandings of child protection as embodied, multi-sensorial practices and the ways anxiety and experiences of bodily self-alienation limit practitioners’ capacities to think about and get close to children. Whilst social workers creatively improvised to achieve their goals, coronavirus and social distancing imposed limits to child protection that no amount of innovative practice could overcome in all cases.

Download: The Unheld Child: Social Work, Social Distancing and the Possibilities and Limits to Child Protection during the COVID-19 Pandemic

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