Using Technology to Enable Contact – Trial.

  1. Introduction. 

The Coronavirus has had a significant impact upon the thousands of children across the UK that use NACCC Accredited Child Contact Centres to spend time with and build bonds with people that they love. We know that the impacts having arrangements changed like this in an unplanned way can be distressing for children and young people, but more than this it can be harmful, with the potential for lifelong implications. 

NACCC are immensely proud to work with a wide variety of Child Contact Centres that offer outstanding services to children and young people. As the effects of the Coronavirus have impinged ever more on daily life, Child Contact Centres have independently researched options available to them and created varying solutions to the challenges faced. On the whole these solutions have included the use of technology although it has to be said that other approaches have also been implemented. 

Whilst NACCC has been able to implement some guidance around the considerations to be made when using technology it has to be acknowledged that many centres have taken the initiative and independently invested the resource to ensure that children are disadvantaged to the minimum possible extent and this is to be applauded. 

There is a saturated marketplace in the UK when it comes to technology like video calling. Whilst NACCC does not support, endorse or work in partnership with any specific provider, Apps and web services that might be considered, could include:

  • Facetime (IOS)
  • Skype (most platforms)
  • Teams (most platforms)
  • Zoom (most platforms)
  • WhatsApp Video (IOS & Android)
  • Facebook Video (Most platforms)
  • Google Hangouts (Android)
  • Google Duo (Android)
  • Viber (Android & IOS), and
  • Imo (Android & IOS).

The difficulty with many of the providers listed above is that very often they work based upon a model whereby, you share your contact details with the other people engaging in the interaction. The problem with this only becomes apparent when working with higher risk cases where this information really can not or should not be shared because doing so would place one party at risk. 

Another challenge, with these types of services is that people engaging in the interaction might be able to remove the contact supervisor from the session, or, send instant messages to a party that cannot be seen by all parties. 

  1. Trial Aims

NACCC are planning to work with a number of Child Contact Centres to understand the experiences of the centres, families and most importantly the children currently using technology to enable child contact. It is hoped that this piece of work will give us valuable data that will show the impact that this practice has had for children and families. We would also be interested in reviewing the resources used to implement these measures and how sustainable it might be to continue working in this way. 

It is planned that we will be able to work with a selection of providers, using different technology, across supervised and supported contact. 

The aims of this trial are to ascertain how feasible it would be to offer a contact service electronically, for families where this might be suitable long into the future. This would enable us to access a rich bank of information that could be analysed to understand peoples experiences. Therefore, evaluation could explore the value of such a service in consideration of the resources it takes and the outcomes for families. 

Once completed this information would not only highlight the excellent practice taking place within child contact, but furthermore, could be used to make the case for further development and resources in this area. 

  1. Method. 

It is planned that we will work with a number of centres to measure the following:


Statistics

Statistics Provided by Centres would show:

  1. How many families used the service? 
  2. How many children this equated to?
  3. How many sessions were offered?
  4. How many of the sessions offered were taken up?

Feedback

It is recommended that standardised feedback forms would be created for families using the service. These would be created by NACCC and in partnership with the people delivering the service so that we had a standardised approach to collecting data and ensuring that this could be universally compared across the centres working with the trial. 

Feedback from families would show:

  1. What went well?
  2. What recommendations they might make to improve the service?
  3. Did all participants feel fully confident with the practicalities of using the technology prior to the first session taking place?
  4. Did all participants feel adequately protected whilst using the technology?
  5. What would these families have done without this service?
  6. What happened next for these families?

Feedback from children would show:

  1. How well prepared they felt to receive the service?
  2. Whether they felt it went well?
  3. Whether they enjoyed the contact sessions?
  4. Whether they felt safe during the sessions?
  5. What recommendations they might like to make?

It is worth noting that only children of an appropriate age and developmental stage should be asked to provide feedback and where possible this should be provided with the support of a person who might be deemed impartial. 

Feedback from centres would show:

  1. The levels of investment (financial and staff time)?
  2. The benefits of working in this way?
  3. Challenges to working in this way?
  4. Staff confidence using the technology?
  5. Recommendations for development?