Observing April as Child Abuse Prevention Month, Illinois DCFS highlights ways to keep children safe

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information provided by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and by Children’s Home and Aid

CHICAGO, Ill. (April 14, 2020) – April is Child Abuse Prevention Month in Illinois, and to increase awareness the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services released a new public service announcement highlighting simple things everyone can do to help keep children safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At DCFS we are first responders when it comes to helping families in crisis, but we cannot do this job alone; and in these stressful times of social distancing, turning our kitchens into classrooms, and the uncertainty of knowing when life as we knew it will return to normal, we need your help now more than ever,” said DCFS Acting Director Marc D. Smith. “Text your friends with children and see how they’re doing; share child abuse prevention messages on social media; and most importantly, if you suspect that a child is being abused or neglected, call the DCFS Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-25-ABUSE.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the hotline is working at full capacity and remains prepared to take calls 24 hours a day. Currently most calls are handled in real time without requiring a call-back. DCFS child protection specialists continue to respond to hotline calls with face-to-face contact within 24 hours to assess child safety.

“Child Abuse and neglect is a pervasive problem in Illinois,” reports Children’s Home & Aid, a child and family service agency, “with over 36,000 confirmed cases last year statewide and 10,158 in Cook County.”

“At Children’s Home & Aid, we are not allowing COVID-19 to stop this public awareness campaign.”

Lansing had invited Valerie McDaniels to make a presentation to the Village Board about Child Abuse Prevention Month at their March 17 meeting. McDaniels is a member of the Board of Directors of Prevent Child Abuse Illinois, and she had been working with Lansing’s Human Relations Commission to spread awareness of child abuse in Lansing and beyond. Because of the growing concerns surrounding COVID-19 at that time, McDaniels was not able to meet with the Board or the Commission, and Mayor Eidam announced that Lansing’s awareness campaign will be delayed until 2021.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is responsible for protecting children from abuse or neglect by responding to calls received on the Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-25-ABUSE (1-800-252-2873).

More information about Children’s Home & Aid is available at www.childrenshomeandaid.org.

Prevent Child Abuse Illinois is headquartered in Springfield, Illinois. More information is available at www.preventchildabuseillinois.org.