Julia Audick, Central Social Work DepartmentJulia Audick

An investigation by the Bewährungs- und Gerichtshilfe Baden-Württemberg

In recent months, the effects of the Corona pandemic have demanded a rather unusual and challenging private and professional everyday life from all of us, which has caused changes in customary sequences as well as serious restrictions.The clients of the Bewährungs- und Gerichtshilfe Baden-Württemberg (BGBW), who often are in difficult social situations, are also directly affected by these circumstances. Isolation, existential fears, living in a confined space in precarious couple or family constellations, excessive demands, addictive drug use – the range of possible risk factors for reoffending increases against the background of necessary restrictions of the pandemic. At the same time, the social services of all aid networks are forced to reduce their offers or to reduce them to a minimum and this at a time when our clients need the support of professional helpers even more.

Stopped personal client contacts

The Probation and Judicial Assistance has also stopped personal client contacts as of 16th of March 2020 with only few exceptions. The contact with clients, which is now most exclusively by telephone has fundamentally changed the usual counselling setting and the structure of the daily work of our probation officers. Nevertheless, BGBW’s mandate and services are continued to be offered during the current crisis. The current situation has prompted the Central Department of Social Work in Probation and Judicial Assistance to take a closer look. The questions of how subordination to a probation officer is designed in times of crisis and how the task of helping and supervising in such extreme conditions can be implemented with the clients were of particular interest. This has led to a study entitled “Supervision of probation during the crisis“.

Evaluation of memos

The study, which covers Baden-Württemberg in total, consists of evaluations of memos from electronic client documentation and a questionnaire in which probation officers were asked about their assessment. The evaluation of the memos was or is carried out on the one hand randomly with two files per month within the 9 BGBW facilities for the months from April to September 2020 and an additional evaluation of memos provided by employees who participated in the survey voluntarily. The results presented below refer to a total of 51 file notes. The questionnaire was completed by 52 probation officers. The results for April and May 2020 and the evaluation of the questionnaire are now available and will be explained in the following. The employees of BGBW were informed about the survey and the related inspection of files. They were informed that when the files were inspected, it would be evaluated from whom the contact was made, which topics were discussed during the conversation, whether agreements had been made with the clients, to what extent the telephone contact  corresponded to the defined intensity of care and whether the case was ongoing or in the initial survey phase. The same procedure was followed for the inspection of files in cases reported by employees.

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