2018 is set to be another interesting year for child welfare.

If last year was about government understanding how children impact the economy and society from the ground up, this year will be about a broader awareness of how government can empower under resourced services by looking at the ingenious ways in which families have begun to access information.

The first trend policy makers and stakeholders will need to watch is the growing use of social media, by both families and professionals. Parents and children have been using social media for several years now, primarily for support and advice purposes. Social workers are taking to sites like Facebook and Twitter to contact hard to reach families, and to gain some insight into their service users. Like all internet activity, it can be a force for good when used properly, but there are still some important concerns surrounding child professionals’ use of the net to gather information about service users, which center around privacy.

For some thoughts on how this trend has been developing, these articles below offer information and the latest guidance in this area:

Our advice to service users: if you don’t wish to have you information accessed by anyone other than friends and family, make your accounts online private, using the settings provided on each platform. Vet friend requests as well.

Our advice to professionals: don’t break the law. Privacy is real, and it’s protected by statute and regulation. Make sure that you know the rules in this area and if you don’t, take the initiative and access guidelines for yourself, and your team.

Another trend to watch is the rise of the informed parent across medical matters. This phenomenon was first highlighted by the Ashya King case, where the parents disagreed with doctors about how to treat their son’s cancer and fled abroad to get the treatment they wanted for Ashya. In this case, the parents had done their own, meticulous, research. The treatment Ashya received abroad worked, and he made a full recovery, despite the original doctors saying it wouldn’t and threatening to remove Ashya from his parents in the process. The latest case on this issue was reported last week, with parents rejecting a hospital’s care plan because the family believe the recommendations are detrimental to their daughter. They have also been threatened with the removal of their daughter if they don’t comply, but they’re not giving up. The links on this trend are below:

Access to information will be a major topic over the next 12 months. We predict some child welfare organisations will try to restrict that access, and others will try to infiltrate social platforms to offer their own advice and support with a view to engaging service users and winning clients. We predict this will be the big race in 2018.

Let us know what you think.