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Child and Family Well-Being

The broad impacts of COVID-19—such as job losses, economic hardship, mental health stressors, physical and social isolation, and increasing substance misuse—are elevating the risk of child abuse and neglect in Alaska.

Normal safety nets and safe havens for children are impacted and many youth are now out of the view of other adults in the community who would normally look out for their safety, such as members of their extended family, teachers, health care workers, and neighbors. Please continue to be vigilant about the safety of the children in our communities by reporting any cases, or possible cases, of child abuse and neglect to your local law enforcement agency and/or the Office of Children’s Services.

Mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect has expanded. By law nurses, coaches, school teachers and many other professionals are required to report suspected cases. Starting in September the law in Alaska requires every person to report possible child sexual abuse to both the Office of Children Services and the nearest law enforcement agency. Find additional information about the change by visiting Recent Changes to Alaska’s Mandatory Reporting Statute goes into Effect in September 2020.

Child Safety and Well-Being during COVID-19

For more information on child, youth, and family well-being and COVID, check out the new Office of Children’s Services webpages:

What you need to know

The good news is that as parents and caregivers, we can do a lot to help our children through this hard time. While we are staying home with our children, look for and be sensitive to signs that they are experiencing stress due to COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), common changes to watch for include:

  • Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
  • Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)
  • Excessive worry or sadness
  • Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
  • Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens
  • Poor school performance or avoiding schoolwork
  • Difficulty with attention and concentration
  • Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
  • Unexplained headaches or body pain
  • Use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs

Ways you can support your child

  • Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand.
  • Reassure your child or teen that there are things your family is doing to stay safe. Let them know it is ok if they feel upset. Listen to what they are sad or worried about, giving them space to talk.
  • Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
  • Do healthy and fun activities together – for example, make art and music, dance, play games, do chores together, go outside for physical activity (maintaining 6 ft. of distance from and wearing cloth face coverings when around non-household members)
  • Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities, and assure that children maintain a bedtime and get adequate sleep.
  • Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members. 

How to get help

If you, or someone you care about, is feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others:

  • Call 9-1-1
  • Visit the Disaster Distress Helpline, call 1-800-985-5990, or text TalkWithUs to 66746
  • Visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline or call 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224 or text LOVEIS to (866) 331-9474
  • Call the Alaska Careline: 1-877-266-4357 or text 4HELP to 839863
  • Call 2-1-1 or Help Me Grow Alaska 1-833-464-2527 for help connecting to resources and services or for help knowing where to start

Dare to be the one!

Find a positive way to impact a child or parent's life. Together we can make a difference in ending child abuse and neglect in Alaska.

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