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KIDS Center’s COVID-19 concern: Abuse risk soars in times of high stress


And kids out of school don't interact with those who can spot issues

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- While KIDS Center remains open during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide critical intervention, therapy and community services to children and families affected by child abuse and neglect, the worst, they fear, is yet to come.

This week, the Oregon Department of Human Services released data indicating that calls to the child abuse hotline have dropped by 70 percent since the mandated closure of K-12 Schools due to COVID-19.

This sharp decline is attributed largely to the fact that most children no longer have daily interaction with teachers and school personnel who are required by law to report concerns of abuse and neglect, and therefore many cases are going unrecognized.

When social distancing mandates are also factored in, it is even less likely that children have much if any interaction with adults outside of their home who might be able to identify and report signs of abuse.

These factors are compounded by added emotional and financial stress the coronavirus pandemic is bringing to many families, all of which is likely to place more children at increased risk for abuse or neglect in their home environment.

 “We know that as the pandemic continues to evolve, and as added personal, emotional, and financial stress and uncertainty mounts for families, it is only a matter of time until the real impact to children becomes known and reports of abuse and neglect begin to skyrocket,” said Gil Levy, KIDS Center executive director.

“The health and safety of our community, clients, and community partners is of utmost importance to us, and over the coming weeks and months we anticipate the need for critical services such as those provided by KIDS Center will be relied on heavily.”

In response to the COVID-19 situation, and based on the most up-to-date directives and recommendations from public health officials and government authorities, KIDS Center said it remains open and available to provide direct services in the following ways:

  • All KIDS Center employees are adhering to Gov. Kate Brown’s “Stay Home, Save Lives” proclamation, unless we have an urgent evaluation, at which time we have an on-call team ready to respond.
  •  Medical Director Dr. Nancy Heavilin is working with community partners to accommodate time-sensitive medical exams at KIDS Center, preserving other critical medical resources by diverting children away from the emergency room for Karly's Law exams or prepubescent SANE exams. "This is a time to minimize exposures. We don't want to send healthy kids to the ER and have them come out with a new infection," she said. 
  •  While KIDS Center is only scheduling urgent cases at this time, they are still providing support to help families deal with increased life stressors, as well as mental health services to both cope with stress and to start or continue their healing.
  • The onset of this global pandemic is a traumatic event on its own – one that has impacted people in many ways and likely caused additional stress and worry for caregivers and/or their families. For some, it has compounded that which existed before this crisis took hold. KIDS Center is still here and available to provide support however they can. If individuals have any concerns or knowledge about abuse taking place in their home or elsewhere, report the abuse immediately to one of the agencies below:
    •  Call 911 – Law Enforcement
    • Call 855-503-SAFE(7233) – Oregon Statewide Abuse Reporting Line
  • If an individual has concerns, but is unsure how to proceed, KIDS Center advocates and therapists are available to help answer questions and guide caregivers through next steps.  
    • ○         Call 541-383-5958 to leave a message and a KIDS Center Advocate or therapist will return your call within eight business hours.
  • KIDS Center has canceled all tours and trainings through April 30 and has shifted their Annual Healing Hearts Luncheon fundraiser to a virtual campaign. Visit to:
    • Make a gift online,
    • Read KIDS Center’s blog for ways to connect with family, practice good self-care, and prevent child abuse,
    • Sign up to be placed on a waiting list for tours or prevention trainings.

“As an organization that has cared for children and families in our community for more than 25 years, we encourage community members to keep taking good care of themselves and those close to them while we all continue to adjust to uncertain times,” said Levy. “We want our community to know that child abuse and neglect services are available to them at any time, including during times of hardship such as now, and that KIDS Center is just a phone call away if there is anything we can do to help.”

For questions, please contact our main phone line at 541-383-5958.

About KIDS Center:

Founded in 1994 and built by the community, for the community, KIDS Center is dedicated to the prevention, evaluation, and treatment of all forms of child abuse. In a child-friendly environment, KIDS Center provides comprehensive medical evaluations to children who may have been abused, seeking to find out what has happened and to provide a path to healing through family advocacy and therapeutic services. KIDS Center is a Darkness to Light affiliate, authorized to facilitate Stewards of Children training. KIDS Center has been providing the Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children training for 10 years in Central Oregon and has trained nearly 11,000 adults in Central Oregon. Information about KIDS Center can be found at:

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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