Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Simon, James


The COVID-19 pandemic essentially changed every system in America. In particular, it has created many unfamiliar challenges for child welfare agencies because they had to make immense changes to how they conducted their established practice. These changes aimed to keep the safety of children at the forefront, and simultaneously integrate higher safety protocols for social workers without putting children at risk. In response, the focus of this research proposal was to understand the effect COVID-19 had on child abuse investigations.

This research project utilized qualitative data in the form of interviews from a convenience sample of child welfare emergency response social workers to explore the impact COVID-19 had on child abuse investigations. Through the use of conventional content analysis, the following themes were identified: Outcomes, Practice Changes, and Types of Allegations. A limitation of the study was the small sample size and its focus on one county, therefore, not being able to generalize to the larger population and other dissimilar jurisdictions. One major finding indicating how COVID-19 changed child welfare practice was the inability to make face to face contact with children, due to social distancing requirements. The results highlight the importance of mental health services being accessible during a crisis, and child welfare agencies being able to adapt to everchanging practice and policy.

Included in

Social Work Commons