Increased Uncertainty: Child protection in the era of COVID-19. Early discussions and empirical findings from Germany.
The Covid-19 pandemic is turning the world upside down, affecting almost all private and public domains, including child protection. In order to shed some light on the consequences of the early months of the pandemic for organized child protection, the project “Child and Youth Welfare Services and Social Change” at the German Youth Institute (www.dji.de/jhsw) conducted a brief online survey of local Children and Youth Welfare Authorities in spring 2020. In order to frame and contextualise the empirical findings, we also conducted a narrative review of the professional discourse in spring and summer 2020. The results of our study have already been widely disseminated in the national context (e.g. Mairhofer et al. 2020, 2021 a,b,c). In addition, the final report of the study was translated into Croatian language on behalf of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Croatia. With this report we would like to make selected results of our study and our literature research also available to a more general international audience. Although our survey investigated several facets of child and youth welfare services, this article only presents selected findings relating to child protection and positions them in the context of further reflections on child protection in times of pandemic. Child protection is characterized by a high degree of complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity. What is already true under “normal” conditions is even truer in the current exceptional pandemic situation, as will be shown in this article. The pandemic has acted as a multiplier, intensifying the structural challenges of organized child protection. This finding follows from a narrative review of literature and empirical results of our nationwide survey of local Child and Youth Welfare Authorities.