When COVID-19 first began to impact the state of Wisconsin and we saw schools closed down, my first concern was for the many children across the state of Wisconsin that Faith Hope & Love serves.
What kept me up at night? The thoughts of children in our community we are not hearing from, the ones who are not being seen. The impact of a pandemic on the children in our community — they are your neighbors, your co-workers’ children, your students. They are our children.
How would this impact the mental and physical health of the children? Would they have enough food each day to eat Would they have the resources needed to continue their learning journey? How will they adjust to this new normal?
Then last Friday, we were informed that for the safety of both students and staff, the Racine Unified School District decided the school year would begin as virtual learning through November 6. This school year will look much different than any we have ever seen and how does this impact the children we serve?
Isolation affects on children
Across the United States, child abuse reports have plummeted. Reports of child abuse dropped by about 20 percent during the first two weeks after Wisconsin schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the state Department of Children and Families Services (DCFS).
The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) points out that despite the decline in the number of calls to child abuse hotlines, calls to domestic violence hotlines have risen sharply around the country and suggest that many children may be in increasingly unsafe homes. Experts fear the reality for at-risk children now largely isolated in homes away from the watchful eyes of mandated reporters is much worse.
The statistics from the WI DCFS say there is a higher risk of abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic because there are fewer mandatory reporters engaging with children. But I see it as an opportunity as a community to support each other.
When we talk about community, what does that really mean? Webster’s Dictionary defines it as a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
As a group of people living in the Racine County area, we are all dealing with the impact of COVID-19. But we can set a common goal of supporting the children of our community. Some organizations across the Racine County area have really stepped up during this difficult time.
If you are in need of food, visit Kingdom Builder’s Facebook or call (262) 637-9673.
Cops N Kids Reading Center and Salvation Army have teamed up to distribute a limited number of meals, Monday – Friday from 4:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Cops ‘N Kids Reading Center, 800 Villa Street.
Food for the Soul, 703 Washington Ave, provides meals every Friday at 5:30 p.m.
It Takes a Village
As an organization that supports children in crisis situations, Faith Hope & Love has seen the demand for services significantly drop in some areas and yet increase drastically in others. Our biggest needs during COVID-19 have been supporting infants, toddlers, and older teens both through our partnerships with Children’s Wisconsin, Aurora Medical Centers, and local law enforcement.
We continue to provide our Duffels for Kids program to children displaced from their homes due to abuse or neglect. Later in August, we will be rolling out a brand new program – Sensory for Kids – a duffel bag for children with autism. Together we can continue to build Faith Hope & Love in the lives of children in crisis.
As officials and supporting organizations take the crisis one day at a time, the full scope of the impacts won’t be fully known for a long time. Please check in with your neighbors, offer to deliver groceries, treat a family to restaurant delivery, drop off some Legos, arts and craft items for the children; these small acts of kindness maybe just the way to relieve increasing stress for parents in our community and bridge the gap for the children.