Adding to the growing wave of research emerging from the early days of the novel coronavirus, the results of a survey of professionals in justice and child welfare agencies show that, like health care workers, they faced a harrowing shortage of masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment.
The National Council on Crime and Delinquency surveyed 185 child welfare and juvenile justice workers from 20 states and Australia in the first eight weeks of the pandemic to determine how agencies responded to the challenges that were suddenly, unexpectedly thrust upon them.
The council concluded that the response was commendable in some ways, while making a number of general recommendations based on the survey findings.
For example, the report said organizations should consider improving staff access to PPE, especially among child welfare workers. Management should also equip staff with the tools needed to perform remote work in the age of the coronavirus pandemic, such as tablets, smartphones and appropriate software.
Among juvenile justice agencies, the highest reported need was better information sharing on how they were handling the challenges related to COVID-19.
The report also called on management to increase support for staff self-care and accommodate the new demands of social distancing, including teleworking.
In terms of client services, the council said workers should be vigilant about checking in with those who are especially vulnerable during the pandemic, including people with medical, mental health or substance abuse issues.
They should also facilitate clients’ ability to maintain contact with loved ones when physical separation is necessary, among other things, the authors recommended.