Child safety experts from Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, and the Rio Grande Valley highlight how COVID-19 is impacting their regions, what they are doing to adapt, and what Texas Legislators need to know.

While children have largely been spared the worst of the disease, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic nevertheless impact children and families. COVID-19 has affected our most vulnerable children, and families, caretakers, and partners are facing unprecedented levels of isolation, monetary stress, and anxiety—conditions that increase the risk of abuse, neglect, and family violence. Children, unfortunately, often bear the brunt of frustration and anxiety accompanying these ill-fated events.

Children are spending more time online than ever, and parents are struggling to balance supervising their children with working from home. On the internet, children are more vulnerable to online sexual exploitation, grooming, cyberbullying, and abuse. They face additional mental health challenges through exposure to the overwhelming information, detailed accounts, and communal trauma of this pandemic, yet unfortunately are much less connected to their support systems.

Healthcare workers at Cook Children’s Hospital have observed a spike in admissions related to suspected child abuse, including three child fatalities in four weeks.  During this time, reports to the Harris County Texas Child Protective Services were down by thirty-nine percent, and from February to March, reports decreased by 18% across the state as a whole.  An unseen and extremely vulnerable group of children are undoubtedly experiencing neglect, trauma, and abuse, but identifying and helping these children is now more challenging than ever

CHILDREN AT RISK hosted a Virtual Roundtable on “Keeping Texas Children Safe During COVID-19” on Thursday, April 30th to discuss child-safeguarding under COVID-19 conditions, what policies and practices would further protect Texas children, what we can learn from past disasters and public emergencies and how they affect children, and what you can do to keep Texas children safer.

Missed the broadcast? Watch the recording of the conversation is below.

Roundtable Participants:

  • Bob Sanborn, President & CEO, CHILDREN AT RISK
  • Guadalupe Fernandez, Policy And Advocacy Manager, Houston, Tahirih Justice Center
  • Jamie McCormick, Vice President of Advancement, Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services
  • Joel Levine, Executive Director, Harris County Protective Services for Children and Adults
  • Michael Kelly, Vice President Programs, Paso del Norte Health Foundation
  • Sophie Phillips, CEO, TexProtects
  • Stanley Fisch, President and CEO, Child Abuse Education Program of South Texas
  • Sylvia Acosta, CEO, YWCA El Paso del Norte Region
  • Caroline Roberts, Staff Attorney, Center to End Trafficking and Exploitation of Children, CHILDREN AT RISK
  • Diana Hastings, Business Development and School-Age Administrator, YWCA El Paso del Norte Region
  • Melanie Johnson, President and CEO, Collaborative for Children – Houston
  • Devin McCain, Community Impact Director, Lubbock Area United Way

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