Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services speaks on abuse reports in the wake of COVID-19

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MONROE, LA (4/9/20)– Louisiana’s stay at home order has caused schools to go online and churches to cancel it’s services and community events. While home might be a place of comfort, for some children it can be a living nightmare.

“It is more difficult to determine when a child may be abused and neglected and one of the best thing people can do is try and get eyes on them,” said Dr. Rhenda Hodnett, DCFS Assistant Secretary of Child Welfare.

The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services says the number of child abuse reports during this pandemic is not a surprise .

“We have actually seen a pretty significant decrease in the number of reports we are getting and that’s not unusual. We see that across the country,” said Dr. Hodnett.

The DCFS says they are down by 50 percent of the calls they usually receive involving neglect and abuse. While this may sound like a positive thing, it could actually mean the abuse and neglect could still be happening out of the eyesight of the community.

“But we always see a drop when school is out. So school teachers tend to be one of the primary reporters for child abuse and neglect. So that certainly is a concern,” said Dr. Hodnett.

Officials say many organizations have helped by providing food and activity packages for families.
However, they know during this time parents are stressed about money, loss of jobs, teaching their kids, and providing for their families.

“I am concerned that the longer this challenge continues, the longer that stress level on parents extends, the more at risk children will be,” said Dr. Hodnett.

The community can help these families by facetiming, talking to the kids not just the parents, offering emotional support, and helping parents apply for food stamps and unemployment.

“There is a lot that the community can do, but when it comes to true abuse and neglect, be sure to contact us,” said Dr. Hodnett.

DCFS says they are still responding to calls and going out on cases. You call 1-855-4la-kids, which is for reporting suspected abuse and neglect or call 1-800-children, which offers 24/7 parenting support.

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