Since March 11, the state has had a 50% decline in the number of calls to the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline – another mark left by the coronavirus. Sara Smith, Deputy Director of the Missouri Children’s Division, says the hotline had about 154,000 calls last fiscal year.
“I mean average right now would be around 650 (daily calls) and we’re seeing about less than half of that,” she says.
Mandated reporters, at schools and some daycares and churches, are not seeing kids in person like they normally do.
“This is even lower than what we even see in the summer when school is out,” says Smith. “Probably because some daycares have also closed and after-school activities and churches, which are some of our other pretty important reporting parties.”
The Department of Social Services, Children’s Division is also very concerned that social isolation and the unprecedented pressures parents and families are experiencing are elevating the risk for child abuse or neglect.
“There are some stressors that would definitely be a concern during this period of unchartered time,” she says.
Children’s Division workers are still connecting with families, providing assistance, and helping to ensure that kids are safe. Smith is pleading to schools, churches and daycares to check in on their kids from time to time by telephone or online.
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