Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline sees 50 percent drop in calls

The Department of Social Services (DSS) has seen a 50 percent drop in Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline calls since March 11, 2020, roughly the same time schools began going on spring break and students have not returned due to COVID-19 shutdowns. 

This drop, representatives believe, is due to the lack of reports from teachers as students are out of school.

Teachers, educators, child care providers, and other professions are mandated reporters and are required to report suspected child abuse. Educators and child care providers make the largest number of hotline calls during the year. 

In a recent release, Jennifer Tidball, acting director for the Department of Social Services said they are “often our state’s best radar on a child’s well-being because children are in school or at child care each day.” 

Other mandated reporters include law enforcement, nurses, doctors, social workers, therapists, probation or parole officers, and ministers. 

According to Sara Smith, deputy director of the Children’s Division, the number of calls have been even lower than the usual dropoff during summer. Why? Because of the COVID-19 shutdowns, children have not only been unable to attend school, but cannot attend community centers, after school programs, sports programs, and other situations where they would have access to a safe adult like they would during summer. 

“We always get a drop of calls over the summer, but it still isn’t reflective of what we are seeing now,” said Smith. “Peak times for the hotline where we have the highest volume of calls is usually August through October and then again March through May. We do drop off in numbers a little bit over the summer, but not as much as we are seeing now.”

These drastic dips in hotline calls is not something they have seen before, said Smith.

“This is uncharted territory because over the summer we have that network of summer school and community programs, sports programs, church, daycare, and we just don’t have that happening right now.”

This is an even more unique situation, said Smith, because parents are facing additional stressors with COVID-19 shutdowns such as possible loss of jobs and income, kids being home for extended periods of time, needing more food than if they were at school, requiring homeschooling, and needing activities to keep them occupied. 

Community members, she said, are the key during this time to helping keep children safe. Checking in with children and families, asking questions, and keeping an eye out for any suspicion of abuse is how community members can help.

“It’s really going to take the community to help make sure that these kids are safe during this time,” said Smith. “I know we can’t physically reach out, but call, text, FaceTime if you’re able to and just check in.”

Smith said asking questions like what the children ate for breakfast or lunch or what activities they have been doing during the day can help determine if the child is receiving basic needs. 

Continuing to build and keep rapport with the child and the child’s family is also helpful. 

“Reach out to the parents to see if there is anything that they need,” said Smith. “Keep that verbal contact going and if you can, some kind of virtual contact, even though we can’t physically be with children during this time.” 

If anyone suspects child abuse or neglect, Smith urges them to call the hotline number at 1-800-392-3738. The Children’s Division Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline (CA/NHU) is a toll-free telephone line which is answered seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For hearing and speech impaired, please contact Relay Missouri 1-800-735-2466/voice or 1-800-735-2966/text phone.

“Our hotline team members and our frontline field workers are all still there, ready to respond and help families,” said Smith. “They are working 24/7 and are still available and able to help link with community resources and make sure kids are safe.”

For more information on the Children’s Division and the Missouri Department of Social Services, visit dss.mo.gov

Want Northeast News articles sent straight to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
Enter your email address and click on the Get Instant Access button.
We respect your privacy

Comments are closed.

  • Kansas City’s Most Wanted

    June 29th, 2022
    by

    KC Crime Stoppers has partnered with The Northeast News to help track individuals in Northeast KC on the Kansas City’s […]


    Vacant Scarritt School slated for reuse

    June 29th, 2022
    by

    Abby Hoover Managing Editor The Scarritt Elementary School at 3509 Anderson Ave., closed in 2010 during the “right sizing” of […]


    Welcoming KC hosts International Food Tour to celebrate cultures on Independence Ave.

    June 29th, 2022
    by

    EllieAna Hale Editorial Assistant Welcoming KC hosted this year’s KC International Food Tour in Historic Northeast, a day of celebration […]


    State Representative earns Missouri Horace Mann award

    June 29th, 2022
    by

    Michael Bushnell Publisher State Representative Ingrid Burnett (D-19) was awarded the 2022 Horace Mann Award Thursday evening at a reception […]


    American Art Deco: Designing for the People, 1918-1939

    June 29th, 2022
    by

    Sponsored content The Kansas City Museum’s collections of historical materials are an important means of advancing the Museum’s mission and […]


    Community partnerships at the heart of Mattie Rhodes, NEAT Mission

    June 29th, 2022
    by

    Sponsored content Once again the Mattie Rhodes Center’s Northeast facility at 148 N. Topping is sponsoring a series of community […]


    Man sentenced to 28 years for double homicide in 2019

    June 28th, 2022
    by

    By EllieAna Hale Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced June 27 that 25-year-old Mario Markworth was sentenced to 28 […]


    Pedestrian suffers critical injuries in early morning hit and run

    June 23rd, 2022
    by

    Update: The female pedestrian has succumbed to her injuries according to KCPD. A female pedestrian who was standing in the […]


  • Cafe Cá Phê hosts fundraising yard sale

    June 22nd, 2022
    by

    EllieAna Hale Editorial Assistant Cafe Cá Phê hosted a Yard Sale Pop-Up Event on June 17 to fundraise and support […]


    World Refugee Day celebration brings together the stories of a diverse community

    June 22nd, 2022
    by

    EllieAna HaleEditorial Assistant On June 18, the North-East Branch of the Kansas City Public Library hosted the city’s annual World […]


    Community Calendar

    June 22nd, 2022
    by

    FRIDAY, JUNE 24 –Welcoming KC Presents the International Food Tour. $30 per person. CLICK HERE MORE MORE DETAILS SATURDAY, JUNE […]


    Sewing Labs welcome international textile recycler

    June 22nd, 2022
    by

    Abby Hoover Managing Editor The Sewing Labs of Kansas City, a nonprofit teaching the legacy of sewing for employment, entrepreneurship, […]


    Students make change in Northeast

    June 22nd, 2022
    by

    Abby Hoover Managing Editor Students from the Ryogoku Soccer Academy are creating change in their community, one project at a […]


    Troost gets creative with business collective

    June 22nd, 2022
    by

    Aniaya Reed Editorial Assistant The Troost Market Collective (TMC) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to create equitable economic […]


    Remember this? 86-year-old Music Hall, Little Theater

    June 20th, 2022
    by

    Eighty-six years ago, on June 14, 1936, the Kansas City Music Hall and Little Theater venue space opened inside Kansas […]


    Arts Asylum presents “Heathers: The Musical”

    June 17th, 2022
    by

    On June 15, Faust Theatre is bringing the dark comedy, “Heathers: The Musical,” to the Arts Asylum through June 25.  […]


    Police report late death near 8th and Benton

    June 16th, 2022
    by

    On May 28, at 5:30 a.m., officers were called to the 3200 block of East 8th Street on a reported […]


    Bushnell talks truck-eating bridge on trucker podcast

    June 15th, 2022
    by

    The OOIDA (Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association), the international trade association representing the interests of independent owner-operators and professional drivers on […]


    Project ElderCool takes on the summer heat with a sustainable solution to heat-related deaths

    June 15th, 2022
    by

    EllieAna Hale Editorial Assistant Summer is here and with that comes excruciating heat and air conditioning systems on blast. But […]


    Classified

    June 15th, 2022
    by

    101 Contractors & Builders MARK’S REMODELING ROOFING, SIDING, DOORS WINDOWS, PLUMBING SHEETROCK, ELECTRICAL NO JOB TOO SMALL 816-537-3193 103 Lawn […]


  • Northeast Newscast


  • Faces Of Northeast


  • Remember This?


  • Want articles sent directly to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
    We respect your privacy and will not distribute your information.