DENVER (March 7, 2022) — The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) reports that calls to the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline, 844-CO-4-Kids (844-264-5437), approached pre-pandemic volumes in 2021 after a significant drop in 2020. Calls increased 8% to 208,949 in 2021 from a low of 193,448 in 2020. In 2019, the year prior to the pandemic, the total number of calls to the hotline was 219,478.
The overall uptick is, in part, due to a 20% increase in calls from education professionals last year. Calls from medical professionals, however, decreased by 3%, and the percentage of calls from family members and the general public also decreased by 2%.
In 2020, CDHS saw a dramatic drop in calls because many mandatory reporters were not seeing kids in person at schools, daycare settings or doctor appointments. As Coloradans continue to return to pre-pandemic levels of activities, CDHS is seeing the number of calls to the hotline increase accordingly.
"The trend we see from this data is that calls from educators, who are the second largest group of mandatory reporters behind medical professionals, have begun to rebound. We attribute this to the fact that more students returned to full-time, in-person learning in 2021," said Michelle Barnes, executive director of CDHS. "However, we saw a decrease in calls from medical professionals in 2021 but expect to see those numbers fully return as families are no longer delaying regular visits to the doctor. Mandatory reporters are part of the safety net that protects children and youth, and they have the ability to provide lifesaving help to child victims in our community."
Key risk factors for child abuse and neglect, including social isolation, family and parenting stress, financial uncertainty, and limited childcare and/or in-person schooling opportunities continue to have a significant impact on kids in Colorado. Even with the increased risk factors, in approximately 70% of child welfare cases, counties have been able to provide services directly to families so children can remain safely at home with their parents.
"As we begin to emerge from the pandemic, we cannot forget that many families are still facing challenges," said Minna Castillo Cohen, director of the Office of Children, Youth and Families. "While COVID-19 has tested all of us, we know that support from friends, neighbors, employers and community members can help build resiliency for families. I urge each of you to help a family when you can and know that it's okay to call 844-CO-4-Kids if you're concerned about a child or youth's safety and well-being."
Support for families takes many forms. To learn about more ways to help strengthen families and to learn more about child abuse and neglect prevention, visit CO4Kids.org.
About CO4Kids: The Colorado Department of Human Services CO4Kids campaign encourages all Coloradans to help strengthen families and communities. To learn about the signs of child abuse and neglect and for information about how to become a foster or adoptive parent visit CO4Kids.org. Call 844-CO-4-Kids to report concerns about child abuse and neglect. If a child or teen is in immediate danger, dial 9-1-1.