AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has seen reports to its abuse hotline slow nearly 20 percent due to COVID-19.
From 2013 to 2019, the last year data was available, DFPS received the second-highest number of child abuse and neglect reports from schools, which ranked second in reporting only to medical providers. “Daycare provider” was also consistently ranked as a top twenty reporter.
“When the educators or daycare providers aren’t seeing children... the numbers of reports to DFPS does go down,” explained Liz Garbutt of The SAFE Alliance, an Austin anti-abuse organization.
Garbutt says SAFE has seen an increase in people reaching out for help during the pandemic. Referrals to their child abuse prevention and victim of family violence programs are up.
“It is a very stressful time, and when there’s a lot of stress there’s more risk for abuse,” she said.
Calls to the organization's 24/7 SAFEline have also increased. Between March 16 and April 5, the organization received 41 child abuse and parenting related calls. During the same timeframe last year, they received just 17.
“I feel it’s really important for parents to know that they’re not alone and that there are resources available in their community to help them,” she said.
Every adult in Texas is a mandated reporter. Anyone who sees or suspects child abuse or neglect is to contact the Texas Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400.
FOX 7 Austin is working to keep you up to date with coronavirus, with both local and national developments. Every weekday we're live at 12 p.m. with a special show reporting the latest news, prevention tips and treatment information.
You can also get the latest COVID-19 news from around the country at coronavirusnow.com.