April is ‘National Child Abuse Awareness Month’ and in the age of Coronavirus and social distancing, community awareness is needed now more than ever.
CASA of Hancock County volunteers continue to do their part in helping children at risk of abuse and neglect, but because of social distancing guidelines now in place, they can no longer make monthly visits to homes. Instead they’ve turned to weekly phone or video calls and drive-by visits so volunteers can physically see what’s happening at the child’s house.
In the last month of social distancing, CASA Director Cynthia Chauvin says they have seen different trends in regards to investigations from Child Protective Services and reminds the community if you see something, say something. “I know comparatively this time two months ago, we had 50 percent more reports called into CPS. So, what we’re seeing because of social distancing is less children’s reports or concerns from the community are coming in. We certainly attribute that to the fact that less mandatory reporters like teachers and daycare workers and other mandatory reporters in our state have access to kids.”
Chauvin says they expect to see more direct effects of this when the economy reopens. Despite the lack of in-person contact though, judges are still holding emergency court hearings and emergency child abuse cases are not being postponed. Chauvin says children and the elderly are the most vulnerable right now and she encourages the community to be vigilant in this time of social distancing. To help spread awareness use the hashtag #eyesonkids on social media.