With Kids Heading Back to School, Calls to Child Abuse Hotline Expected to Rise
Every Child Central Oregon calls for community support to help prepare for an uptick in reporting.
REDMOND, Ore., Jan. 21, 2021 — The return to school is no doubt exciting for many after months of distance learning amid our pandemic times. However, Every Child Central Oregon (ECCO), a regional nonprofit that mobilizes community to help address Central Oregon’s foster care needs, knows a stark reality—that some youth have been experiencing abuse and neglect to such extremes that an uptick in reports is expected along with the return to the classroom.
In fact, the incredible strain has already been placed on the foster care system over the past year. While the uncertainty and grief of COVID-19 have impacted all, the compounding trauma it brought to the state’s 10,800+ youth in foster care has been unparalleled:
● Increased disruption of home placements due to COVID-19 spread
● In-person visitations with biological families interrupted
● Critical structure and mentorship from school, counseling, and athletic support halted
● Shattered economic opportunity for youth participating in independent learning programs
● Economic strain and adjusted realities for foster families who care for these youth
In Central Oregon, the growing need for foster care services has increased annually with approximately 400 children spending a night in foster care in the past year alone. And with the return to school, teachers, who are mandatory reporters for child abuse and neglect, could be placing more calls to the child abuse hotline in the coming months at an alarming rate, according to Melissa Williams, ECCO’s director.
“When school is back in session, we’ll once again have ‘eyes on kids,’” Williams says. “During COVID-19, child abuse authorities did see a significant drop in hotline calls
because if you cannot see children in person, it’s hard to pick up on what may be going on. The good news is that our community organizations and systems are prepared to assist these youth in whatever ways we can. Meanwhile, we feel it’s important to support those organizations, including Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), as it could be a taxing experience for their team. This is a time when everyone needs to feel reinforced and lifted.”
In an effort to get ahead of this projected need, Williams wants to remind the community that it can provide support in ways big and small, of which all are greatly appreciated:
● Joining My NeighbOR, a program that connects goods and services from community members to foster families and
youth in foster care
● Donating money to support foster care services
● Applying to provide foster care
● Volunteering to provide ODHS staff
appreciation (snacks, lunches, coffee, etc.)
along with ECCO’s guidance
● Putting together a foster care “box” (Welcome
Boxes, Launch Boxes and Flash Boxes) or
clothing bundles, which make the recipient’s
experience more manageable and positive
“We pretty much have a way to give or help for anyone willing to do so,” Williams says. “The current need is already alarmingly high, and we expect there to only be more once kids return to school and there’s greater transparency about their welfare. We’re asking community members who can help us prepare for and meet this need to do so.”
To lend a hand, contact ECCO directly at 541.610.9455. Or, learn more by visiting ECCO’s website: https://everychildcentraloregon.org/.
Media Inquiries/More Information:
Melissa Williams, Director, Every Child Central Oregon
About Every Child Central Oregon (ECCO)
Founded in 2019, Every Child Central Oregon mobilizes community to uplift children and families impacted by foster care in Central Oregon. An affiliate of the statewide 501(c)3 nonprofit Every Child Oregon, Every Child Central Oregon is based in Redmond, Ore., from where it relentlessly fights for local children in crisis and commits to finding safe, nurturing places where they can flourish. Serving Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson Counties, ECCO provides radical hospitality with a posture of humility and care for youth in foster homes, as well as its families and partners working in child welfare. Believing in a hopeful future for its clients, ECCO connects individuals, businesses, families and faith communities with acute needs, helping the vulnerable to rise up and achieve resiliency in spite of crisis.