Colorado communities stepped up for children and families at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic

July 14, 2021

When Coloradans buckled down to adhere to stay-at-home orders to help slow the spread of coronavirus in 2020, many mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect were no longer seeing children and families at the same rate as they typically did. Doctors began to conduct wellness exams virtually, child care programs closed, teachers adjusted to instructing students online, dentists were only accepting appointments in cases of emergencies and youth athletic programs were suddenly paused.

Mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect make up a significant percentage of calls to the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline system 844-CO-4-Kids. Naturally, as mandatory reporters interacted with children and families less in March 2020, overall call volume decreased.

In April 2020, the month following the onset of the pandemic, non-mandatory reporters made up for 53% of calls made to the hotline (an 11 point increase from that same time in 2019) while only 47% of calls came from mandatory reporters. Most recently in May 2021, non-mandatory reporters made 48% of calls to the hotline while 52% of calls came from mandatory reporters.

“While we were concerned about the significant drop in calls when the pandemic began,  we are proud to look back at that time period and see that communities stepped up for Colorado children, youth and families,” said Minna Castillo Cohen, director of the Office of Children, Youth and Families. “It takes a village to strengthen families and our communities across Colorado were proof of that during a difficult and unknown time.”

As pandemic restrictions begin to lift, there are more opportunities for everyone to help strengthen families. Many parents haven’t had much of a break over the past year so offering to babysit or checking in to see how a parent can use help is a great way to let them know that they are not alone. Employers can check in with their employees to debrief about what has worked over the past year to help better understand how to continue strengthening the families of their employees, which is ultimately good for business.

As COVID-19 restrictions have decreased and vaccination rates in Colorado have increased, it is still important for friends, family and community members to strengthen families. 

During the coming months, you can help a parent by:

  • Asking how they can use help
  • Making a specific, immediate plan to provide a break
  • Complimenting them for their strengths and reminding them that they are doing a great job
  • Reminding them that it is okay to ask for help
  • Doing research to help connect them with resources that they can use
  • Offering to babysit
  • Being a listening ear

Learn more about how you can help strengthen families to prevent child abuse. 

If you have a concern about the well-being of a child or family, follow your instincts and make a call to the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect hotline at 844-CO-4-Kids. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, every day. Anyone witnessing a life-threatening situation should call 9-1-1.


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Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline
Available 24 hours a day, every day. Don't hesitate to call and get help. 
Anyone witnessing a child in a life-threatening situation should call 911 immediately.