Child protective services and out-of-home Care for Children during COVID-19: A scoping review and thematic analysis

Carmit Katz, Afnan Attrash-Najjar, Noa Cohen, Talia Glucklich, Ma'ayan Jacobson, Natalia Varela, Sidnei Rinaldo Priolo-Filho, Annie Bérubé, Olivia D. Chang, Delphine Collin-Vézina, Ansie Fouché, Sadiyya Haffejee, Ilan Katz, Kathryn Maguire-Jack, Nadia Massarweh, Michelle O'Reilly, Ashwini Tiwari, Elmien Truter, Rebeca Veras de Andrade Vieira, Hayley Walker-WilliamsMurilo Ricardo Zibetti, Christine Wekerle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic challenged child protection and posed new risks for child maltreatment (CM). Moreover, governmental efforts worldwide prioritized mitigating the spread of the virus over ensuring the welfare and protection of families and children. This neglect caused hardship for many vulnerable children, including those in out-of-home care (OOHC), and challenged the functionality of child protective services (CPS). However, only limited research has investigated the impact of COVID-19 on OOHC and CPS and explored how CPS overcame the challenges of helping children in OOHC. Objective: This review aims to address this gap in the research to unveil the ‘positive legacy’ left by CPS in their work with children in OOHC during COVID-19. Method: This review utilized three stages of analysis, including a scoping review followed by two rounds of thematic analysis. The scoping review was carried out in six languages: English, Hebrew, Arabic, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. The first round of thematic analysis found eight relevant articles for this review. The second round of thematic analysis found three themes related to this paper's aim in the context of COVID-19. Results: Three main themes were identified: 1) decision-making and OOHC, 2) difficulties in procedures related to OOHC placement, and 3) handling challenges of OOHC. Conclusions: The discussion emphasizes the crucial role of preserving children's rights, hearing their voices and needs, and considering their safety and well-being when planning policies and practices to protect them. It also emphasizes society's responsibility to acknowledge contextual factors in child protection.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106540
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • COVID-19
  • Child maltreatment (CM)
  • Child protective services (CPS)
  • Out-of-home care (OOHC)

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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