By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4)– While Colorado families are staying at home to keep our communities safe, there are children facing dangers other than coronavirus.

According to Colorado’s Department of Human Services, fewer calls reporting child abuse have been received since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak — but that doesn’t mean there’s a decrease in abuse.

(credit: CBS)

Often times, it means there are just fewer people around to report it.

“Last month, 40% of the calls were from educators, school staff and child care workers,” explained Minna Castillo-Cohen, Director of DHS Children Youth and Families. “Who will take care of them? Who will see them?”

The first week of March, there were about 4,800 calls. Last week, there were just over 2,400 calls.

Castillo-Cohen says the number of calls to the abuse hotline usually decreases when students are out of school. She fears for many Colorado children who will be sheltered at home for weeks, or even months, during the outbreak.

“There are stressors and challenges brought on by parenting kids full time, having to work at home at the same time, along with financial insecurity. Those things collide and it could create unsafe situations for kids,” said Castillo-Cohen.

(credit: CBS)

Case workers are essential personnel, so they’re still able to check on families and perform assessments during Colorado’s stay-at-home order. However, DHS says keeping children safe is a community effort — now more than ever.

“Keep an eye out for the kids in your neighborhood. Keep an eye out for the kids in your family,” said Castillo-Cohen.

She suggests Coloradans who suspect abuse call the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline (1-844-CO-4-Kids). All callers can remain anonymous and reports will remain confidential. If a child is in immediate danger, they should dial 911.

“A hotline call doesn’t mean there’s going to be a removal of a child. It means a family is getting connected to the resources they need to be the best parents they can be,” said Castillo-Cohen.

Tori Mason

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