WARSAW – Child abuse and neglect are likely on the rise in the face of the pandemic, as families are put under more financial and emotional stress.
Children are no longer in the public eye—they are not at schools or daycare, or in other locations where caring individuals would be able to spot signs of abuse and neglect. That is why local child welfare agencies are sending out an urgent plea to the public to ensure that vulnerable children do not go unnoticed during the Indiana Shelter in Place Order.
At CASA of Kosciusko County, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteers serve as the voice for children in the child welfare system who have experienced abuse or neglect. These individuals meet with children in person regularly, and provide information to judges to help them make the most well-informed decisions about each child’s best interests. Frequent visits provide an opportunity for advocates to check in on children’s safety and well-being. But right now, meeting in person with the children they advocate for is not possible, making it more challenging to gauge what is going on in children’s lives, and their needs.
CASA of Kosciusko County and other CASA programs throughout the state and entire country are working diligently to ensure children do not fall through the cracks during these unprecedented times. Staff and volunteers will continue meeting with children remotely, filing reports, and communicating regularly with the Department of Child Services. While these measures are still critical, the entire community is needed to assist in protecting children in their neighborhoods.
“The devastating reality is that abuse and neglect is happening behind closed doors right now,” said CASA of Kosciusko County Executive Director Mackenzie Cloutier. “CASA of Kosciusko County is preparing for an influx of child abuse and neglect cases and it is vitally important that every adult remains vigilant as we weather this storm together. Children are counting on us, and for many it could be a life or death matter.”
Every adult in the state of Indiana is a mandated reporter. Be aware of children in your neighborhood and if you suspect child abuse or neglect, call the Indiana Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-800-5556.
To hear more from Mackenzie Cloutier about child abuse during the COVID-19 Pandemic and Child Abuse Prevention Month, visit the CASA of Kosciusko County website to learn more at casachildren.com.