VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) -The Department of Families and Children Services (DFCS) said they have seen an alarming decrease in the number of cases of reported child abuse to them since the coronavirus crisis began. The agency is now asking for help to make sure children are protected.
DFCS has been working around the clock ensuring kids are safe and foster homes are capable of caring for them.
“I think all of us as staff, as a region, we are extremely passionate about our children. We have the heart to serve our children and to see a decrease in reports is concerning for us,” said Adrian Rivers, C3 Coordinator for DCFS.
With children not going to school, camps or after school programs, those mandated communicators are nonexistent.
“For a lot of children, being in school is their safe place, or the after-school program that is the safe place that they have to be. That’s why we are so passionate about making sure that if they don’t have the school and they don’t have the afterschool programs, that as a community we are watching and taking care protecting the children the best way that we can and thats by making sure if we see something, we say something,” said Amy Griffin, Called to Care director for Lanier County and Clinch County.
Called to Care is a non-profit organization that works with foster children and families, along with DFCS in preventing child abuse and neglect. They are a support system for foster care.
To aid with the lack of reports, Called to Care with the school systems are partnering up with DFCS and community food banks to make sure that when people pick up a food box, there is a card inside that says “see something, say something” and it will have the phone number to call and report any abuse.
“We want to make sure children are safe, that they are eating, that they are supported. We want to make sure the calls are coming in so we can do what we are committed ourselves to do,” said Rivers.
Care workers are still actively making face-to-face visits and making sure children are well-taken care of. To ensure safety for the staff, they have protective gear and must follow CDC social distancing protocols. Most of their workers are also currently teleworking.
Called to Care has also been assisting with providing care workers with donated supplies, and aiding them with stress and anxiety. They have also provided quarantine activity baskets for families.
DFCS hopes this new partnership and initiative will help raise awareness for the time being.
If you see something and want to make a report, the number is (1-855) 422-4453.