INDIANAPOLIS — Child advocates are concerned about the impact the coronavirus and social distancing is having on our state’s most vulnerable children.
Sandy Runkle with Prevent Child Abuse Indiana is concerned because children aren’t going to school, after school clubs and sports, and church — places where trusted adults can make sure they’re ok.
Add to that, many children aren’t receiving services they’d normally get in school, and are now spending more time online and with video games.
"Perpetrators are online playing video games too, perhaps grooming children knowing they're online more frequently now so there's a risk factor," Runkle said. “Families may be concerned about educational needs and be hiring tutors and bringing people into the home. Make sure it’s a legitimate tutor.”
Children are also spending much more time with their parents, who may be under an enormous amount of stress due to the coronavirus.
Prevent Child Abuse Indiana is calling on neighbors, mail carriers, cable technicians, garbage collectors and anyone who is still out and about to report suspected child abuse and neglect to the state’s hotline at 1-800-800-5556.
Parents should take care of themselves and try to reduce stress by connecting with loved ones, getting outside and seeking therapy if needed.
“We’re all human and we’re all under the same type of stress,” Runkle said. “So, absolutely you want to be reaching out right now in terms of keeping in contact with family and friends.”
Tiffany Sanders is a foster parent living in Indianapolis with her six kids; four biological and two foster children from the state’s child welfare system.
Like many parents, Sanders is stressed out dealing with working from home, e-learning, and her kids not getting their regular services.
"The concern is just the accessibility for supports and things like therapies,” Sanders said. “We're working with the offices to do virtual therapy. So, it will be challenging to figure that out. "
The Villages, a non-profit, is trying to support foster families by doing virtual visits and they’re asking you to write letters to families with the state’s most vulnerable children.
"We at the Villages are doing all we can to get that stress level down as low as possible,” Pierce said. “We are checking on our families much more often. We don't want to distance ourselves socially. We want to be as connected as ever via phone, via FaceTime."
You can mail cards to:
The Villages c/o Sharon Pierce
3833 N. Meridian Street
Indianapolis, IN 46208