Proactively supporting children and young people during COVID-19

Published: October 12, 2020

An international evidence scan to understand how jurisdictions are supporting children and young people during COVID-19 and beyond.


COVID-19 has placed significant pressure on many tamariki (children) and their whānau (families). With disruption to regular points of contact and face-to-face services, tamariki are at greater risk of missing out on the support they need to protect their wellbeing.

As countries emerge from the pandemic response, the recovery phase will bring with it complex social and wellbeing needs, triggered by the economic impacts of industry shut-downs and strict quarantine measures.

In this context, an international scan was undertaken to identify how jurisdictions responded to the crisis, and understand what lessons can be applied to efforts in supporting tamariki and whānau through what is anticipated to be a very challenging time ahead.

Through 24 interviews with a range of people across Australia, the United Kingdom, Brazil and the United States, we gleaned insight into the experiences of stakeholders in supporting the care and protection of tamariki and whānau.

Key findings

The global challenges facing care and protection and youth justice during the COVID-19 pandemic response have been many and varied:

  • Reduced oversight of children and young people
  • Increasingly complex community needs
  • Unique challenges facing indigenous populations
  • Use of virtual interactions
  • Continuity of workforce and care
  • Budget pressures
  • Lack of visibility on future needs

But jurisdictions have responded quickly to proactively identify and support tamariki and whānau:

  • Leveraging local networks
  • Online service delivery
  • Creative, grassroots practices to proactively support children and families
  • Rapid upskilling of staff
  • Rapid digitisation
  • Health imperative in custodial youth facilities
  • Partnering with youth outreach and community organisations

This research lays the foundations for how services may continue to care for tamariki beyond the pandemic and how they should respond in similar future global crises.