Arizona Department Of Child Safety: With Schools Closed Calls To Child Abuse Hotline Have Decreased

By Bridget Dowd
Published: Monday, April 13, 2020 - 3:04pm
Updated: Tuesday, April 14, 2020 - 6:07am
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With Arizona schools shut down for the rest of the year, vulnerable children are spending more time at home and less time with teachers, who are legally required to speak up when they witness or suspect child abuse.

Arizona Department of Child Safety spokesman Darren DaRonco said calls to the child abuse hotline have gone down.

"Teachers and school personnel comprise one of the largest groups to report child abuse," DaRonco said. "On average, we are seeing an over 25% decrease in calls to our hotline since schools closed. That means many children are suffering in silence."

As a result, the state’s foster care system could be in for big changes when class is back in session.

Arizona Helping Hands provides essential items to children in Arizona’s foster care system. Foster families usually go there for beds, clothing and diapers — but the service is now delivery-only.

Helping Hands President Dan Shufelt said that’s far from the organization's biggest concern.

“In this time where people are sheltering in place, those eyes are not on the children," Shufelt said. "So once we’re told that it’s safe to go back in the water, we’re afraid that there’s going to be a tsunami of requests and of issues that have been undetected during this time period.” 

The organization is trying to maintain a reserve of supplies, should there be an influx of reports and children put into foster care when they return to school.

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