County human service departments respond to 40,000 reports of possible child abuse or neglect throughout Colorado each year. Roughly 100 times a day, child protection workers serve as first responders to these reports, typically by entering families’ homes at their own risk.
As the spread of COVID-19 has overwhelmed Colorado, the reports of abuse and neglect have not stopped, but the dangers child protection workers face when entering homes has increased. These workers are mandated by the state and federal government to provide services to children and their families, both in their homes and to children in foster care. Today, in the face of potential COVID-19 exposure, child protection workers – like first responders everywhere – continue to care for some of Colorado’s most vulnerable citizens without proper personal protection equipment.
In a new Issue Brief, Colorado’s Child Protection Ombudsman calls for these critical employees to be prioritized as first responders so they can get the equipment they need to protect themselves, and thus, continue to protect our children.