For people who are experiencing domestic violence, mandatory lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19 have trapped them in their homes with their abusers, isolated from the people and the resources that could help them.
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Domestic violence often spikes during economic downturns and stressful times. Now, with the addition of national and regional lockdowns and new self-isolation and quarantine measures, many families may become trapped in abusive situations.
Social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic has forced states to rethink their approach to social work, whether by finding safe strategies for staff to check on at-risk children in their homes or resorting to remote visits.
Unlike many workers in other professions, video visits or phone calls are risky in the social work field. Many workers must use the bus or subway to see clients and visits are required by law. The remote visits may not offer a full picture of conditions in the child’s home. If homes are particularly crowded, it makes people less inclined to speak blatantly if they know they can be overheard.
Face-to-face contact is integral to social workers’ practice. The COVID-19 lockdown has left children and families specialists, as well as those working with vulnerable adults, without any national rules or advice on how to adapt their approach to ensure even minimal safeguards when contact is limited.
Administration for Children’s Services spokeswoman Chanel Caraway said in a statement that the health and safety of child welfare workers and their clients are a “top priority” and that the agency is “currently working with input from our State oversight agency on guidance that will allow for more flexibility when it comes to conducting home visits to ensure children are safe.”
[P1] Social workers are restricted to remote visits instead of in-person in fear of contracting and/or spreading COVID-19.