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COVID-19 pandemic put pressure points on children’s aid clients

Highland Shores Children’s Aid expects the balance of 2020 will have continued pressure points for child welfare due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“During the pandemic, there have been many challenges which have potentially created new or different issues for families to manage,” said, Dwayne Stacey, of HSCA, in a presentation to council following the proclamation of October as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

“Some of the challenges families encounter, as a result of COVID-19, are financial stress, isolation and limited ability to access services during these times.

“The majority of children receiving service from HCAS is a result of families being unable to meet children’s physical and emotional needs. Some of the difficulties our families face include mental health concerns, addictions, social isolation, trauma and extreme financial stress.”

During the month of October, children’s aid societies across the province participate in a purple ribbon campaign to help raise awareness about the role community plays in the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

The HSCA serves Prince Edward County, Hastings and Northumberland counties. In a chart showing ongoing families served by region, the majority of clients are from Hastings County, at 65 per cent, followed by Northumberland at 21 per cent. Nine per cent are from Prince Edward County.

In 2019-2020 the society recorded 3,903 child protection intakes – 61 per cent requiring service such as investigation, or links within the community.

He noted about 20 per cent of referrals (798) are related to the extreme abuse most people associate with child welfare. Another 20 per cent (796) were documented over the past year as harm by omission. Emotional harm is noted at 30 per cent, or 1152 intakes) while caregiver capacity is listed at 24 per cent, or 920 intakes.

“More than 1,350 families are assessed for a concern about their children each year and approximately 637 families are provided with ongoing services and support.”

“The main reason children were admitted to care in 2019/2020 is caregiver capacity (making up 43 per cent of children in care),” said Stacey. “Analysis in admission to care spoke to the complexity of needs in children, resulting in a number of situations where children come into care due to lack of service, rather than child protection concerns.”

In about 93 per cent of all open family service at HSCA, the children are living in the family home.

“Even during the pandemic, we continue to visit children and families in their home while observing current health recommendations,” said Stacey. “Our child welfare workers help families obtain the services they many need, such as parenting or treatment programs.”

Tuesday, Oct. 27 is Dress Purple Day to help raise awareness. Purple T-shirts can be purchased from The Children’s Foundation by calling 613-962-9292 or visiting

Filed Under: Local News

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  1. Frank Sterle Jr. says:

    “It has been said that if child abuse and neglect were to disappear today, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual would shrink to the size of a pamphlet in two generations, and the prisons would empty. Or, as Bernie Siegel, MD, puts it, quite simply, after half a century of practising medicine, ‘I have become convinced that our number-one public health problem is our childhood’.” (Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal, pg.228). Unhindered abuse can launch a helpless child towards an adolescence and adulthood in which their brain uncontrollably releases potentially damaging levels of inflammation-promoting stress hormones and chemicals, even in non-stressful daily routines. It’s during their initial years of life that children have very malleable minds, like a dry sponge squeezed and released under water, thus they’re exceptionally vulnerable to whatever rearing environment in which they happened to have been placed by fate. A psychologically sound as well as a physically healthy future should be all children’s fundamental human right, especially considering the very troubled world into which they never asked to enter.

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