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Case Management Adaptation During COVID-19 and Other Infectious Disease Outbreaks

Explore case management adaptation during COVID-19 and other infectious disease outbreaks.
The steps in the case management process remain unchanged in IDOs, but the approach for each step should be reviewed and adapted according to the context.

Remember that even if access currently is not significantly impacted in your context as a result of public health measures, it is important to prepare in advance for the potential of limited access to children and families as a result of an IDO.

The following section is taken from the Technical Note: Adaptation of Child Protection Case Management to the COVID-19 Pandemic. It outlines some key considerations and priority areas for adapting case management services during COVID-19 and other IDOs for the safe continuity of services for the most vulnerable children. Key considerations are categorized by associated risk level and are applicable to all open cases as well as new intakes.

Key Considerations for Adapting Case Management in COVID-19 and Other IDOs: Current Caseload

1. Adjust case prioritization criteria to the COVID-19/IDO situation and government policy.

2. Conduct a review and assign updated risk levels to the current caseload.

  • Supervisor and caseworker review and re-prioritize — based on the IDO situation — all open cases remotely or in-person where possible. Give priority to high-risk cases.
  • Give priority to high-risk cases.

Guiding questions to focus the re-prioritization include:

  • What is the current situation of the child? Have there been any minor or major changes that affect the child and/or their caregivers as a result of the pandemic?
  • What is the likelihood that the child’s safety and well-being will worsen due to the current crisis? (Determine specific risks and document, if possible.)
  • What type of support does the child require and how will the caseworker and child safety be considered for each action prioritized? (Document in case plan, if possible.)

3. Identify Required Adaptation Needs for Case Management Services either as preparedness measures or for immediate implementation, depending on the stage of COVID-19 or other IDO in your context:

Considerations for adaptation:

  • Face-to-face: continue when safe and appropriate. Make available personal protective equipment (PPE) for face-to-face meetings. Call in advance to determine if any person in the household is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or believes they have been exposed to the virus. If the caseworker cannot visit the home, establish an alternative safe place to meet.
  • Phone communication and video meetings: use if accessible to the child and/or caregiver, both as a supplement and alternative to visits.
  • Work with trusted community members, volunteers or child protection committee members to provide follow-up only if safe and relevant.
  • Create or update safety plans for the child and/or caregiver/trusted adult.
  • Determine what resources are needed to implement adaptations proposed ( e.g., phone credit, psychosocial support materials, referral service pocket cards).
  • Allocate and prepare a back-up caseworker to cover cases if the primary caseworker falls ill or is unable to continue providing services.
  • If case management services are modified, document the adapted service delivery modality and include as an annex of the case management standard operating procedures (SOPs).

4. For All High-Risk Cases:

  • Maintain case management support for all high-risk cases. Where possible, conduct face-to-face visits with the most urgent/life-threatening cases. Where restrictions are placed on movement, actors may need to advocate with authorities for permission to ensure continuity for high-risk cases or identify who within the government or another child protection agency can provide immediate support.
  • Introduce the back-up caseworker to the child and/or trusted adult in case of temporary handover due to illness or COVID-19 restrictions impacting their ability to continue case management services.
  • Document how the back-up caseworker will safely access case information during the coverage period.

5. For Medium- and Low-Risk Cases

  • Review and prioritize based on assessed needs. Share caseworkers’ contact information with the child and/or caregiver/trusted adult. Provide phone follow-up where face-to-face is not possible. Explore trusted community safe support options.

Key Considerations for Adapting Case Management in COVID-19: New Case Load

Adapt case management criteria for new cases to consider:

  • Family/child directly impacted by the IDO: increased distress, loss of livelihood, family separation and children isolated without appropriate care (alone at home due to caregivers’ illness and children in observation or treatment centers), orphans (death of parents/caregiver due to the illness), etc.
  • Family/child indirectly impacted by the IDO: domestic violence, sexual and gender-based violence, child marriage, adolescent pregnancy, trafficking, child labor, enhanced risks for children or caregivers with disabilities and/or chronic illnesses, children on the move, children living on the street or in residential care facilities, children associated with armed forces or armed groups, children in detention, etc.
  • Establish clear protocols specific to the IDO situation in each operational location for identification and intake of new cases (review and update the protocols regularly).

Remember that all case management contextualization and adaptation will be needed to make sure case management processes reflect in-country staff capacity, access to technology and virus prevention and response measures in place at any given time.

Interested to read more? Check out the full COVID-19 Case Management Guidance from the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action.
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Protecting Children during COVID-19 and other Infectious Disease Outbreaks

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