With COVID 19 taking center stage in the media along with the health and financial impacts; there is not a lot of mental space to add child welfare into the mix. However, considering the statistics that is exactly what we need to focus on. With children being isolated at home, abuse rates are likely to increase. Children will have no doctor or dentist visits as well as closed schools, resulting in minimal interaction, if any, with mandated reports. The pandemic is creating illness, financial devastation, food insecurity, stress, depression, anxiety, and unemployment at unprecedented rates and it creates the perfect storm for child abuse. One article on AJC.com also points out that courts are shutting down, visits are being suspended, and foster parents may be less likely to take children due to possible COVID.1
Likely the above situation is going to create a surge in child welfare cases and foster care placements after things start to open up again.
Research shows that during past pandemics and recessions cases have skyrocketed. In my personal experience in child welfare (approximately ten years), child welfare cases tend to decrease during the summer with an increase when school starts. The pandemic is closing everything at unparalleled speed. Including the child welfare system itself. Lack of visitation providers, therapist, support groups etc. The impact this will have on children will last years. Please see below for some helpful resources and tips. How can YOU help?
Helpful coping tips:
Reach out for help, resources like Children’s Bureau offer programs like NACS, Neighborhood Alliance for Child Safety, which are there to intervene before a more formal system has to.
Reach out to support systems even if that is virtually.
Remember self-care, take a break, walk away from a crying infant for a few minutes to calm down.
There are many ways to access resources including 211, Trustee Office, Adult and Child and Children’s Bureau. New resources are popping up every day in Indiana with local companies trying to help. I would encourage a quick search on the internet or a call to 211 to find immediate resources. The CDC and Department of Urban Housing have also issued different resources for homelessness. CWLA.org has a nice navigation of COVID Resources including topics for social workers,
Remember, we are all mandated reporters in Indiana. The Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline in Indiana is 1-800-800-5556.