Health officials in Indiana are keeping an eye on a “wave” of potential COVID-19 cases. The cases threaten the state’s healthcare capacity. But with every school in the state shut down and kids at home, there’s a second wave Indiana CACs are expecting: of abuse and assault cases.
Abuse cases were already highest among households under stress. Job losses, financial strain, and the general stress of the current environment is adding extra pressure on many more households. As kids stay home longer, abuse cases are likely to rise.
April 1 marks the beginning of Child Abuse Awareness Month. Talking, learning, and sharing about the causes and reaction of abuse helps make our communities safer. Just as talking about washing our hands keeps us safe from the Coronavirus, talking about abuse, neglect, and child sexual assault can keep kids safe, too.
Indiana CACs and child protection agencies are handling cases as they continue to arise. The Indiana Department of Child Services has caseworkers, alongside law enforcement officers, on the front lines of potential exposure as they investigate cases on-site with additional screening measures.
But there are bright spots.
Dunebrook Child Advocacy Center in Michigan City has met its social-distancing requirements by conducting some forensic interviews through online conferences.
Susie’s Place Child Advocacy Centers in Avon, Bloomington, and Terre Haute are turning their April fundraising campaign virtual with all-new shirts, hoodies, and other apparel items.
Sylvia’s CAC in Boone County is also working remotely and maintaining social distance, bringing children into the facility with only two staffers. The rest of the MDT is meeting and working successfully through cases virtually and in real-time. Meaning kids and a non-offending caregiver receive all the promise of a CAC without significant additional risk of viral exposure.
Elsewhere, CACs are banding together to help reduce travel and excessive caseload in neighboring counties. And plans for new programs and buildings are moving forward with the Southwest Indiana Child Advocacy Center Coalition.
Southeast Indiana CAC is continuing to expand their outreach and initiatives, plus a new Greensburg satellite office is on schedule to open later this year.
The Indiana Chapter is also providing guidance and handling weekly online huddles with CAC Directors across the state. These weekly meetings help coordinate caseload, give support and share needs and ideas as they arise.
Jan Lutz, the executive director of the Indiana Chapter of CACs, says of these weekly calls, “We are stronger together as we navigate these extraordinary times. CACs are providing services for children and families with professionalism, grace, and creativity.” In addition, the Chapter is offering online, interactive training for CAC staff and MDTs.
You can help by finding your local CAC and donating directly to them. You can also donate directly to the Chapter here.
Your donation isn’t just because it’s Child Abuse Awareness month. Or because COVID-19 has changed our world. Your donation is a testament that, despite the stress and anxiety and changes in how we may feel right now, a child will be told, “You will be okay. You are safe.”