(New Philadelphia, Ohio) – In April of 2020, the number of children in Tuscarawas County Job & Family Services’ care was only 64. But, when the pandemic hit, things started changing and child abuse cases began to rise.
Parents were put into a situation where they had to balance an increased number of struggles–and mostly on their own due to the isolation caused by Covid. Officials believe the added stress contributed to the increase in child abuse cases.
Beginning in April of 2020, children’s services referrals and cases began to rise. By the end of 2020, our case numbers had gone up to 87 children in care. A year after the pandemic started, we have 100 children in foster care. We also have 28 children who are under protective supervision and are either living in their own home or with a kinship provider. Those children and their families are being provided services to help keep the children out of foster care.
Over 50% of the cases investigated are due to neglect, and about 25% of the cases are due to physical abuse. Sex abuse, emotional abuse, dependency, and unruly charges make up the rest of the cases. About two-thirds of the children removed from the home are less than 13 years old. The younger the children are, the more vulnerable they are in dangerous situations.
What Can We Do?
As a community, we need to recognize the signs of despair in adults which can lead to neglectful and harmful situations for children. School will be ending soon and the children will be back in their homes full time. For those adults struggling with personal issues, the additional pressure of caring for children full time may weigh heavily upon their ability to parent productively. We encourage parents to reach out to one of our many agencies/churches/community resources to talk about their situation. This pandemic has been difficult on all of us, and more so for some, but we will continue to get through it together.
There are links to many of the available resources in our community on the TCJFS webpage. A Directory of Services is listed under the Access Tuscarawas area on the webpage. Click on the link to the Community Directory document to view all the local resources in that booklet.
If you are concerned about a child and feel a referral needs to be made, please contact our agency by either calling 330-556-6720 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org . If it is an emergency situation, please call the sheriff’s office immediately. As a community, let’s strive to provide the safest area possible for our children.