Introduction: We examined information and communications technology (ICT) use in family services and its perceived benefits and barriers amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Hong Kong.
Methods: We invited all family service social workers of 12 NGOs to complete an anonymous online questionnaire in May 2020 (Part A) and a management representative from each NGO to provide written feedback on ICT use in January 2021 (Part B).
Results: In Part A, of 255 respondents (response rate: 67.3%), perceived ICT use in conducting programmes, groups, casework and preventive family programmes showed net increases of 33.9-54.5%; perceived ICT use in different work processes showed net increases of 18.8-48.6%. The three most common perceived benefits were "providing another option to service users" (74.2%), "more convenient service" (60.2%) and "maintaining normal service" (59.7%). In Part B, 12 management representatives consistently reported positive impacts of ICT use on family services. They shared actionable strategies (e.g., ICT skill-related training) and concerns about data privacy and management.
Conclusions: ICT use in family services markedly increased amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Hong Kong. It helped make the services more accessible especially when the pandemic restricted face-to-face services.
Keywords: COVID-19; Hong Kong; family services; information and communications technology; pandemic; perceived benefit.