Children’s sector workforce: Covid-19 evidence review
18 May 2021
Cordis Bright has reviewed existing evidence about the how the children’s sector workforce has experienced and responded to the challenges of COVID-19. This rapid review of the evidence was commissioned by Barnardo’s to accompany the evaluation of its See, Hear, Respond (SHR) programme – a national programme, funded by the Department for Education and delivered by a network of VCS organisations led by Barnardo’s, to provide support to children and families who have been adversely impacted by COVID-19. For further details, please click here.
A rapid review of evidence was carried out between January and March 2021, identifying publicly available references in the academic and grey literature. Over 80 documents were reviewed, including reports from the Children’s Commissioner, Action for Children, Barnardo’s, Children’s Society, NSPCC as well as from academic journals.
The review identified a range of challenges on the children’s sector workforce including challenges concerning:
- Needs of children and families, such as heightened risk of maltreatment and deteriorating mental health. The literature reported some groups, such as children with SEND or children in BAME communities were particularly negatively impacted by COVID-19.
- Day-to-day functioning of services, including reductions in face-to-face oversight of children which limited professionals’ abilities to safeguard children.
- Changes to practitioners’ working environment, including: the challenges of homeworking; the impact of the pandemic on professionals’ own physical and mental health; increasingly difficult ethical dilemmas and judgements about risk-taking; and feeling unsupported to work safely and effectively.
The review identified that, in the face of challenges some services had adapted their offering to work more flexibly, make use of digital technology, and find creative multi-agency strategies to support children.
There remains a gap in terms of robust evidence about the impact of the responses to the pandemic, and there is a need for robust monitoring and evaluation to be put in place to address this.