Barnardos Launches: “Working Together Online”

An Evaluation of Online Working with Children and Families During the Pandemic

Barnardos children’s charity launched an evaluation of their work with children and families during the periods of restrictions and lockdowns of the Covid 19 pandemic.

The evaluation was carried out with over 100 Barnardos children’s services staff, surveying 150 parents using our services, and interviewing five children.

Key observations

  • The majority of participating service users enjoyed engaging in online services, whilst more than half of participating parents/adults identified a blended approach of online and face-to-face meetings as their preferred option for receiving services
  • Online and hybrid services were praised by both service users and staff for offering service users’ options, choice and more flexibility in how they receive supports

Key recommendations

  • Give careful consideration to the child’s age and capacity to participate virtually. Work with children under 10 years of age should take place face-to-face where possible.
  • Workers should discuss suitability of working online with children with parents/guardians, listening and where feasible, catering to the needs and preferences of families.
  • The safety and suitability of utilising digital platforms should be reviewed and risk assessed.
  • Ensure there is an option for a blended approach to service delivery.
  • In the cases of complex needs and child protection concerns, face-to-face should be the dominant medium of service delivery and, in some instances, may be complemented online.

In response to this evaluation, Barnardos has developed a Digital Framework to support other organisations to use it as guidance to create their own.

Barnardos CEO Suzanne Connolly said: 

“The findings of this evaluation outlined many of the positives of online service provision such as expanded reach and increased flexibility and efficiency for staff, children and families. For some children, attending services from home after school was easier, and time was saved from not having to travel. For working parents, the option to attend at a time that suited them was reported to be invaluable.

“Despite this, children, parents and staff reported the value of face to face meetings. The outcome is an option for parents to have a blended approach – to meet in person at key intervals with virtual sessions in between. Those working directly with children and families are eager to embrace a blended approach to their work and are keen to participate in training opportunities that will elevate their online practice and engagement skills.”

A parent said:

“It would not have been possible for us to attend services in person due to the distance between where we live and the closest office. My partner can take an hour off work during the day for an appointment and we can do this during school time so that we can give our full attention to the worker.”

We asked children: What was your favourite way to meet your Barnardos worker:

“It was probably online because it was easier and it was faster than making the meetings in real life”

“Face to face because I feel like we can have a better conversation”

“I liked both but I preferred coming in to see Claire face-to- face"

Funding received from Rethink Ireland funded this evaluation.

General Info

Date Entered/Updated
10th Nov, 2022
Region
Nationwide
Expiry Date
8th Dec, 2022