In spring 2020, the NSPCC adapted its delivery of local services for children and families across the UK to comply with COVID-19 restrictions. Practitioners and teams now deliver some services virtually, and others are using a blend of virtual and face-to-face work (a hybrid service model) to support children and families.
This briefing considers the experiences of practitioners, delivery partners, parents, carers and children involved in these adapted services between spring and autumn 2020, including:
Authors: Aisling McElearney, Georgia Hyde-Dryden, Lauren Palmer, Hannah Walters, Kurt Coulter, Lucy Read and Gary Adamson
A hybrid service model, that combines remote support through virtual and digital methods with face-to-face work, has been found to have good potential when child and family-led and when developed in the context of a child’s personal circumstances. The research shows value in continuing hybrid and virtual offers for some children and families across some of the NSPCC’s services.
Providing remote support using virtual methods can help to broaden the reach of a service, and has been shown to facilitate the development of an effective relationship between the practitioner, the child and their parents or carers. While virtual relationships can take longer to build, working at a slower pace may be more suitable for children and families who find initial face-to-face engagement intense and stressful.
High risk and complex cases are less suitable for virtual and digital support, as remote delivery does not offer the same window on body language and behavioural cues as face-to-face communication. Remote support also presents challenges for assessing and managing risk.
Please cite as: McElearney, A., Hyde-Dryden G., Palmer, L., Walters, H., Coulter K., Read, L. and Adamson, G. (2021) Reflections and learning from our local service response to families during COVID-19. London: NSPCC.
We've taken findings from our roundtable in Wales and a range of other evidence to develop best practice for you to use when undertaking child protection work virtually, including some of the benefits and challenges you need to consider.
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