AZDCS making in-person child home visits while other states stop
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Arizona Department of Child Safety is continuing to make home visits to check on children in-person during COVID-19, something it says other states have halted.
"The department responded to all calls of abuse and neglect," said Mike Faust, the director of the Arizona Department of Child Safety. "That's not the case nationwide, we worked very diligently to make sure PPE was in place and the right protocols to make sure our staff could safely go out and assess the safety of children."
Faust says some states stopped home or in-person visits during COVID-19 but Arizona has pushed through. The department visits about 150 homes a day.
"It's a testament to the child welfare workers who so often are put in compromising situations," he said. "They have continued to respond."
Nancy Williams, Vice President of the Arizona Association for Foster and Adoptive Parents, has fostered for 25 years and has adopted 7 children.
"It's so important just being heightened and aware and checking on children everywhere," she said.
The department has seen a 30 percent decrease in calls made to its abuse and neglect hotline during COVID-19, which they attribute to kids not being in the classroom with teachers who are obligated to make reports.
"Without school being in session since March, that's a huge concern for all children," Williams said.
Faust said remote learning can make it harder for teachers to identify abuse or neglect.
"When vulnerable children are not in the public, we are always nervous," he said. "That typically happens during summer or winter breaks and we always see an increase in reports when kids go back into session."
In Arizona, birth parents and children have resumed in-person visits while many other states are still holding virtual meetings.
"We caught a ton of flack for it, a lot of folks were like, 'You're risking children's lives, you're putting our lives in danger,' he said. "I think it's important for people to know that parents want to see their kids, kids want to see their parents and that's a very important part of kids going back home."
If you suspect a child is experiencing abuse or neglect call the AZDCS hotline at 1-888-SOS-CHILD.
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