A new survey published by Community Care is asking child welfare professionals to get in touch and offer information about how they are using social media to monitor families.
The survey features eight questions:
1. What is your role?
2. Do you use social media?
3. Have you ever used social media to look at a service user’s profile?
4. Have you ever used social media to look at a service user’s profile, with a view of gathering evidence?
5. Are you aware of the guidance from the Office of Surveillance Commissioners (now the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office) on the covert surveillance of social networking sites by public authorities?
6. If you are aware, are you confident with your understanding of the guidance?
7. Are you confident you know the rules around using social media as part of a case?
8. Do you know who in your organisation to ask to explain the rules around using social media as part of a case?
In September 2017, the HCPC published guidelines, along with a series of case studies to help social care professionals understand the do’s and don’ts around social media use. The guide came off the back of Researching Reform’s call to the President of the Family Division to issue legal guidance for family professionals in March of last year, after we published information about social work professionals using the internet to track down parents in care proceedings.
In May 2017, we also published research which showed that social workers in America were unsure of how to use social media in a child welfare setting, with over half of social workers surveyed saying they thought it was permissible to search for a client online.
- Over half of the workers (58%) reported that searching for a client on Facebook out of curiosity was acceptable in some situations and 43% reported that they had done this.
- Over half of workers (53%) stated that it was acceptable in some situations to search for a client on Facebook that the agency would like to locate, such as a missing parent and about half (49%) had done this.
- 61% of the child welfare workers stated that it was acceptable in some situations to search for a client on a site like Facebook when the information might give insight into client risk factors and close to half (46%) had done this.
- About 65% of the child welfare workers reported that it was acceptable in some situations to search for a client on a site like Facebook when conducting a child welfare investigation or assessment and about a third had done this.
Community Care’s survey follows similar lines, though it is less robust than the US report above, which was published in December 2016.