SPRINGFIELD – With schools, day care centers and preschools around Illinois shut down as part of statewide efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus, calls to the Department of Children and Family Services’ (DCFS) abuse and neglect hotline have dropped dramatically over the past week.
However, child welfare experts and others don’t believe the decline reflects a decrease in abuse; on the contrary, many fear that children are now at a greater risk of being hurt as families, many facing additional stress over work and health issues, hunker down in isolation.
DCFS’ Jason Strokosch said the agency needs family members and neighbors now more than ever to report their suspicions to the hotline.
“Do not assume that someone else will report it,” he said. “You might be the only person seeing it.”
Because children aren’t in school or child care, the teachers, social workers and counselors most likely to spot signs of abuse and who are required by state law to report those allegations, can’t.