COVID-19 Report: How local authorities have adapted social work practice

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown raised large concerns over how social workers would be able to still deliver the support needed for the families they work with. This COVID-19 Report looks at six of the initiatives rapidly implemented by local authorities' children's services to adapt their practice in response to Covid-19.

Report documents

Report Summary
(PDF, 5MB)
Full report
(PDF, 2MB)


The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions led to substantial changes in children and families’ lives. What Works for Children’s Social Care (WWCSC) and the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) looked at how local authorities’ children’s services adapted in response to the pandemic. In December 2020, we completed our interim report which included a rapid review of the evidence of “what works” in relation to practice adaptations. Our final report looks in more detail at how practice has adapted within six local authorities.


Both reports aim to develop an understanding of the challenges of delivering early help and children’s social care during a pandemic, identify how practice has adapted and highlight what we can learn from existing evidence about how to deliver such practice well.

How we went about it

For the interim report, we reviewed a wide range of sources to build an understanding of the challenges facing children’s services during Covid-19. For the final report, we held focus groups with twelve local authorities to identify how their approach has changed. We then worked with six local authorities to develop logic models for new innovations and conducted a light touch implementation and process evaluations for three of these.

Key findings

The recurring themes in local authorities’ response to the pandemic were:

  • Flexibility over the format of support, with changes to contact between professionals and families including an increased use of virtual and digital support
  • A focus on multi-agency arrangements and increased communication and data sharing between partners
  • An increase in practical help, concentrating on the provision of basics and reduced formality between professionals and families.

Read the full report

Read the interim report

Read our blog post