Child welfare officials ask community to be alert to potential child abuse

With students out of school for the balance of the academic year due to the coronavirus pandemic and families under stress, Los Angeles County child welfare officials today urged residents to help ensure children remain safe.

Department of Children and Families Services Director Bobby Cagle said children are now out of sight of teachers and school nurses who are obliged by law to report suspicions of abuse and neglect.

“Social workers rely heavily on mandated reporters to initiate contact with our department in order for us to protect children,” Cagle said. “With this safeguard now gone, I am calling on Los Angeles County residents to be the voice for children who may be experiencing physical abuse, severe food insecurity or other forms of neglect.”

The most common type of mistreatment is neglect, according to DCFS. An estimated 678,000 children were found to be victims of child abuse or neglect nationwide in 2019, according to federal statistics cited by the department.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, an effort to raise awareness of resources and coping strategies available to families in need of support. DCFS has invested nearly $20 million in services to help families with children at risk, including provision of basic goods, parenting education, financial literacy and peer support groups.

These services are available regardless of age, immigration or insurance status, for as long as needed.

“This situation is sure to test the limits of even the most patient individuals,” Cagle said. “But I want to emphasize that there are services available in the community to help. If you or someone you know is in need of extra support during this time of heightened uncertainty, please contact DCFS to find out what services are available in your area.”

The DCFS Child Protection Hotline can be reached at 800-540-4000.

More information on Child Abuse Prevention Month and how to help can be found here.

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