Working with Child Victims During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Qualitative Study of Child Maltreatment Investigators’ Experiences
The present study adds to the growing body of knowledge on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by examining the experiences of Canadian child maltreatment investigators. Three focus groups were conducted with child maltreatment investigators (n = 16) from across Canada to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on child maltreatment investigators and the children and families they work with. Findings from this qualitative study relate to the personal and professional impact of COVID-19 on child maltreatment investigators and the impact of COVID-19 on investigators’ work practices. Subthemes relating to the impact of COVID-19 on child maltreatment investigators include fatigue, stress, and burnout; self-care and isolation; working from home with increasing workloads; child maltreatment investigators as essential workers; and workplace support. Participants’ work practices were impacted by rates of reporting throughout the pandemic, reduced in-person contact with clients, remote services and communication, and COVID-related safety protocols and challenges. Recommendations stemming from these focus groups include the recognition of child maltreatment investigators as essential workers, access to adequate counseling services for child maltreatment investigators, workplace flexibility for child maltreatment investigators, and ensuring that child protection agencies are adequately resourced to maintain manageable workloads.