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Professional Child Protection Community: Challenges and Risks Faced by the Social Service Workforce during IDOs

Outbreaks and associated public health and social measures pose new challenges to child protection provision. Reflect on key risks to the safety.

The social service workforce:

  • Includes government and non-government professionals and paraprofessionals (including community workers) who carry out a range of essential promotive, preventive and responsive roles for the protection and well-being of children and families.

  • Must be supported, equipped, empowered and protected to mitigate the damaging effects of COVID-19 and other IDOs on children.

Prevention, control and containment measures related to IDOs such as COVID-19 pose significant challenges to social work provision and the social service workforce. For example:

  • Public health measures require adapting practice; for example, remote working.

  • For high-risk cases, workers may need to meet clients in person. This results in a risk for the worker and their families of contracting the disease, which may lead to workers experiencing fear.

  • Workers experience the same strains and stressors in an IDO as the rest of the population. This includes reduced access to childcare, services and social support networks. These worries may be exacerbated by an increased workload, challenges in accessing children and families in need of support, etc. The intensity and variety of factors put staff at increased risk of burnout and other forms of psychosocial distress.

  • Workers may experience increased caseloads during an IDO such as COVID-19 as the measures in place to control the spread of the virus may lead to increased reports and disclosures of child protection incidents.

These examples highlight the need for appropriate training; protective gear; and mental health, psychosocial and well-being support for workers during IDOs such as COVID-19.

Your Task

Do you identify with the risks outlined above?
Are there additional risks to the safety and well-being of workers that have not been mentioned?

Use the discussion thread below to respond to these questions.

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Protecting Children during Infectious Disease Outbreaks

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