Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., wrote to Secretary Alex Azar of the Delaware Department of Health and Human Services emphasizing the need for increased funding and focus on child abuse prevention services during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Child Abuse Hotlines across the country have seen significant decreases in the amount of calls they have been receiving. In Delaware, annual calls into the child abuse hotline typically reach above 21,000 calls. Following the closure of schools – one of the top three reporters of child abuse – a steep decline in reports occurred,” said Blunt Rochester. “The troubling reality is that this decline does not translate to fewer incidents of abuse; it most likely means abuse is going unreported and children are not getting the intervention they would otherwise receive. We know that with increased financial, medical, and mental stress facing families, as well as the disruption in typical routines, children are at greater risk of abuse. It is our collective responsibility to do everything in our power to prevent child abuse of any kind. We must take meaningful steps toward increased support services, enhanced training capacities, and increased investment in comprehensive and collaborative strategies not only to reduce incidents of child abuse but also to ensure children have adequate support to heal from abuse they’ve experienced.”
The letter called for increased funding to support the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act Discretionary Funds Program, increased funding to support the Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention Grants, along with funding research to determine how to better protect children in digital environments, whether they’re surfing the web or using remote learning.