Methods. This study used a qualitative research design to explore how child welfare agency representatives and community organizations who serve immigrant families involved in the child welfare system have experienced service provision during the COVID-19 pandemic. Semi-structured, one-on-one interviews were conducted via Zoom with n=31 child welfare agency representatives and community partners serving immigrant families across 11 states. Interviews were transcribed verbatim. Data analysis followed a thematic analysis approach (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Open coding was used to break down the data into smaller codes that could stand alone for categorizing and to detect repeated patterns. The repeated patterns were then sorted into concise categories to assist in identifying emerging themes, creating a manual codebook with definitions of each theme and sample quotes from transcripts.
Findings. Results revealed that child welfare agency staff and partner organizations established unique collaborations to serve the needs of immigrant families during the pandemic by: 1) using funds to purchase food, provide phones, assist with paying utilities, and meet other family basic needs; 2) promoting greater access in service delivery by offering immigrant families’ flexibility in time of convenings, flexibility of space, virtual/remote sessions, and through the use of promotoras/health promoters; 3) enhancing engagement by drawing upon trusted and vetted community leaders, faith-based support networks, and by collaborating with additional legal service support networks to serve clients’ time-sensitive legal and basic needs; 4) engaging in successful public health campaigns, developing community resource lists with partner organizations, and promoting local resources to assist families identify safe resources.
Implications. Findings from the study highlight the responsibility that child welfare agencies have to work within collaborative networks to meet the needs of immigrant families amid the pandemic to enhance connection, access, and engagement with needed services. Implications from this study identify individual, organizational, and policy level strategies that can be implemented to improve service provision to promote equity and inclusion of immigrants in child welfare practice and throughout community-based service delivery. Implications have potential for strengthening community responses via child welfare agencies and other service providers to mitigate the damage to immigrant families during COVID-19 recovery.