The child welfare field is expanding the role of digital technologies in casework practice. Social media apps have become ubiquitous communication tools for professionals, families, children, and youth, and they are critical for maintaining connections in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the use of social media presents privacy and safety concerns for those involved with child welfare, and agencies must determine how to utilize these technologies while minimizing risks to families and staff.
Eye on Ethics: New NASW Code of Ethics Standards for the Digital Age
Social Work Today
Describes revisions to the National Association of Social Workers' (NASW) Code of Ethics written in response to the impact digital technology, the internet, and social media are having on the field of child welfare. The article lists new standards that have been added, two of which deal with the use of social media.
How Child Welfare Professionals Search for, Access, and Share Information: Findings From the National Child Welfare Information Study
Long, Bhattacharya, Eaton, et al. (2021)
Child and Youth Services Review, 130
Includes a study on how child welfare professionals find and use information, including the use of social media.
NASW, ASWB, CSWE, & CSWA Standards for Technology in Social Work Practice (PDF - 341 KB)
National Association of Social Workers (NASW), Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), & Clinical Social Work Association (CSWA) (2017)
Presents standards for various uses of technology for social workers to access, gather, and manage their clients’ information and to guide them in their practice. The guide includes information on social media policy beginning on page 18.
Social Media and Child Welfare: Policy, Training, and the Risks and Benefits From the Administrator's Perspective
Stott, MacEachron, & Gustavsson (2017)
Advances in Social Work, 17(2)
Discusses how child welfare agencies use social media and reports findings from interviews with administrators on their views of the risks and benefits of using social media to enhance the well-being of youth in out-of-home care.
Social Media Guidelines: A Guide for Foster Parents and Relative Caregivers (PDF - 140 KB )
Oregon Department of Human Services (2018)
Defines social media and discusses the importance of confidentiality. The guide also includes guidelines caregivers should follow before posting on social media.
Social Media Policies
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Provides a listing of social media standards and policies from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on accessibility, branding, comments, and record keeping.
Social Media Policies for Caregivers
Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (2020)
Includes guidelines on what is appropriate information to share on social media about children and youth in care.
Social Media: Tips for Child Welfare Workers
Social Media: Tips for Foster Parents and Caregivers
Social Media: Tips for Youth in Foster Care
Social Media Use, Attitudes, and Knowledge Among Social Work Students: Ethical Implications for the Social Work Profession
Ricciardelli, Nackerud, Quinn, Sewell, & Casiano (2020)
Social Sciences & Humanities Open, 2(1)
Describes social work students' use of, knowledge of, and attitudes toward using social media and examines the social media's role in ethical social work practice.
Developing Personalized Social Media Policy for Social Work Practice
Includes resources as well as a step-by-step approach for how social work field educators can create a personalized social media policy for clients, students, and colleagues. Also available is the Second Edition of the Social Media Toolkit for the Social Work Field Educators.
Facilitating Virtual Parent Support Groups
Presents online options for facilitating parent support groups through social media sites such as Facebook and other online platforms like Google Hangouts, Skype, and Zoom. The article reviews tips for child welfare professionals on hosting these types of meetings and advice for helping them run smoothly.
Session Six: Using Social Media and Technology to Engage Children, Youth, and Families [Webinar]
National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (2020)
Offers a webinar recording, slides, and discussion about child welfare workers using social media and online technologies to communicate with families. The webinar discusses best practices on supporting child welfare workers in their use of technology.
The Use of Facebook in Social Work Practice With Children and Families: Exploring Complexity in an Emerging Practice
Cooner, Beddoe, Ferguson, & Joy (2019)
Explores how Facebook is used in casework practice with families. The article examines benefits and challenges related to the use of Facebook and social media in the fields of social work and child protection.
Using Facebook Groups to Support Families After Placement [Webinar]
Shows a webinar on the use of Facebook to support families after placement. The webinar reviews the value of online support to families, the role of the moderator, and how to start an online group.
Using Social Media to Engage Families (PDF-2,693)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children
and Families, Office of Head Start, National Center on Parent, Family and Community Engagement (2018)
Provides information on the use of social media to engage with families and covers developing a social media plan, choosing social media sites to use, how parents and families use social media, and more.
Youth in Care and Social Media Use
Dworkin & LeBouef (2020)
University of Minnesota, Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare
Offers a training for child welfare caseworkers on youth in foster care and social media use. The three-part training covers how social media impacts youth in care, the benefits and risks of social media, a framework for caseworkers and caregivers to reflect on their own technology use, and scenarios for professionals and caregivers to work through together.