Here at Home Start’s Community Services for Families, we are concerned about how the Coronavirus is impacting children around the country and in our San Diego County community as well. The Child Welfare Services Child Abuse Hotline has had an extreme drop in calls since the Coronavirus shelter-in-place order started. This brings a lot of concern for those serving children and families in this crucial role of strengthening families and protecting children.
As Essential Services Providers here at Home Start, we are finding new ways to meet the needs of the children and families we serve during this pandemic. Since many children are in foster care, our parents cannot visit their children in person. This causes more isolation, anxiety and depression, so we are using alternative ways to visit using ZOOM, Skype and Face Time. This keeps families connected. Our Family Support Partner and Visit Coaching programs are providing shorter sessions more often to maintain parent’s divided attention. We maintain more frequent communication with our families, so our parents continue to receive the same valued support, education and guidance they need.
Without teachers, routine doctor visits, after school programs, etc., there are fewer mandated reporters calling the child abuse hotline with their concerns and doing their part in keeping children safe. So, we need to rely on our larger community by saying that you can prevent child abuse too. Everyone can help and anyone can call the number below to prevent child abuse by reporting worries you may have of a child you may see or hear nearby. In fact, our children are depending on it!
Here are a few ways can all look out for vulnerable children during this Coronavirus pandemic:
- Be a good listener. Domestic violence can start with innocuous put-downs, subtle intimidation, financial or personal threats.
- Listen to your insticts and teach children to listen to theirs and tell you if they feel something is wrong with a friend.
- Take notes and call the police if you see or hear evidence of domestic violence. All reports can be kept anonymous. Call 1-800-4ACHILD (1-800-422-4453). All reports can be kept anonymous. In San Diego, please call (858) 560-2191.
- Support a friend or family member who may be in an abusive relationship. You can also refer them to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org for additional resources.
- Lead by example. Speak out about unhealthy relationships and don’t minimize stories of abuse.
- Teach your children to respect others and talk to them about healthy relationships. This is another great way to lead by example.
- Especially now, you may be able to help relieve tension in a family by providing some small relief such as buying groceries for them or bringing in their garbage bins. You never know how far a small act will go.
Thank you for being part of our team in keeping children safe.