Child protection – Covid-19 and beyond
The project will help increase the resilience of child protection by delivering empirically substantiated knowledge, practical aids and possible opportunities for inter-cantonal dialogue and coordination during crises.
The project aims to draw inferences for improving child protection in Switzerland. This will be done by conducting investigations in two German-speaking and two French-speaking cantons. A broad-based survey will be conducted of fifteen different types of organisation working in child protection. We will then examine intensive family support, parenting guardianships and residential care – three areas of child protection that involve a high level of intervention. Professionals, caregivers and children will have an opportunity to express their views. Finally, the findings will be discussed and evaluated in the cantons in which the investigations took place, with experts in other cantons and at national level.
An increase in stressors, far-reaching restrictions and uncertainty about the future are all likely to have elevated the risk of child abuse and neglect, and to have restricted the ability of the child protection system to function correctly. At the same time, studies show that some children, caregivers and professionals were able to find and tap fresh resources and discovered new ways of averting distress. Against this backdrop, the study will seek possible ways of improving child protection.
The project will systematically examine the crisis-resilience of the child protection system during the pandemic. It will provide empirical information on the institutional challenges that arose, on the experience of caregivers and children in the child protection system, on the problems that were perceived and the solution strategies that proved successful. In a final step, this information will be used to develop recommendations for strengthening the system.
The study will reveal gaps in service delivery as well as promising coping strategies adopted by the people affected during the pandemic. These will be used to develop more effective child abuse and neglect prevention strategies and child protection interventions during health emergencies or other comparable social crises.
The project will involve caregivers, young people and professionals from various areas of child protection. Ultimately, the study will address researchers, professionals and political decision makers in equal measure. The results will be discussed and evaluated with them at cantonal and inter-cantonal specialist events. The findings will make a material contribution to improving the resilience of Switzerland’s child protection system.
The results of the study will be made accessible to the public in different ways. Firstly, two PhD theses and numerous scientific publications are planned. Secondly, the results will be made available in application-centred experience reports and will be discussed and evaluated with the participating Cantons and implementation partners. The recommendations derived from the findings will be discussed and further disseminated at inter-cantonal events.
Child protection in times of Covid-19 and beyond: Countering the impact of stressors, constraints and uncertainties on families, professionals and organizations