Learn to recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect as summer approaches

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DENVER (June 11, 2024) — As summer approaches, child welfare advocates are calling on all Colorado residents to learn to recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect and to call the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline (844-CO-4-KIDS or 844-264-5437) if they are concerned a child may be experiencing abuse or neglect.

When the school year ends and summer break begins, calls to the hotline drop by 24% on average because teachers and other school-based mandatory reporters are no longer interacting with children every day. During summer break, it is even more critical that all Coloradans support the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

In 2023, the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline system received 117,760 calls related to concerns about a child’s safety or well-being. In most situations, counties are able to successfully work with families to connect them with resources and avoid out-of-home care. In fact, in 97% of child welfare assessments of abuse and neglect, children and youth are able to remain at home while their families receive services.

“It is important to recognize the signs and call the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline if you are concerned about a child or youth who may be experiencing abuse or neglect,” said Mollie Bradlee, deputy director of the Office of Children, Youth and Families at the Colorado Department of Human Services. “As Coloradans, we can also take a proactive approach so that abuse and neglect never happen. Parents and caregivers can learn and practice the five protective factors that help strengthen families and prevent abuse and neglect. Simply lending a helping hand to families with kids can make a difference.”

The five protective factors include:

  1. Parental resilience: Parents and caregivers with resilience are better able to protect their children from stress and can help children learn critical self-regulation and problem-solving skills.
  2. Social connections: When parents and caregivers have a social network of supportive friends, family and neighbors they can turn to for emotional support or advice, it is easier to care for their children and themselves.
  3. Concrete supports: Families who can meet their basic needs for food, clothing, housing and transportation — and who know how to access essential services such as childcare, health care, and mental health services — are better able to ensure the safety and well-being of their children.
  4. Knowledge of parenting and child development: Parents and caregivers who understand the usual course of child development are more likely to provide their children with developmentally appropriate limits, consistent rules and expectations, and opportunities that promote independence.
  5. Social and emotional competence of children: Parents and caregivers support healthy social and emotional development in children when they model how to express and communicate emotions effectively, self-regulate and make friends.

There are many things Coloradans can do to support protective factors for families. Community members, friends, family and neighbors can support parents and caregivers by being sympathetic listeners and sharing healthy parenting strategies. They can help care for children while their parents or caregivers work, practice self-care or attend to urgent needs, and they can assist parents in identifying and accessing community resources whenever they face challenges. For more ways to make a difference, check out 50+ Ways to Help Families.

Every parent needs support from time to time. The CO4Kids partner organization list provides additional services parents and caregivers can utilize for extra support. More information and resources can be found on the CO4Kids website.

CO4Kids is the Colorado Department of Human Services’ statewide initiative to provide awareness about Colorado’s child welfare system. It focuses on educating the public about the signs of child abuse and neglect, while raising awareness about the Hotline (844-264-5437) to report concerns related to a child or youth. CO4Kids also strives to strengthen families as a means of preventing abuse and neglect from happening in the first place, helping all Colorado kids have a safe environment. Finally, the campaign is committed to recruiting and retaining foster and adoptive parents, so that when an out of home placement is unavoidable, a child has a safe place to thrive.

Media contact:
Carla Rodríguez, Public Awareness Communications Specialist