Less child abuse and neglect calls during COVID-19 could signal underreporting

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RBC | While calls have been down during the stay-at-home orders, Rio Blanco County Human Services Director Barb Bofinger says that may actually be cause for concern.

“There aren’t eyes on these kids like there normally are,” Bofinger told the Board of County Commissioners by phone Tuesday. Without teachers and child care providers seeing at-risk children daily, human services providers worry that abuse and neglect hasn’t stopped, it’s just being underreported.

Colorado has one toll-free phone number to report child abuse and neglect 24/7, 365 days a year. Please call the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-844-CO-4-KIDS (1-844-264-5437) to report concerns about a child’s safety and well-being.

Bofinger also said her department has started to see an increase in requests for food assistance and medical care. “We may see more in the coming weeks or even months,” she said. There has also been a slight increase in Colorado Works requests, but as yet no requests for rental assistance, mortgage assistance or utility help.

According to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, Rio Blanco County averaged four initial unemployment insurance claims per week in 2019. In the last two weeks, there have been 39 and 43 initial claims from Rio Blanco County, respectively.

In regular business, the board approved a comment letter to the USDA expressing support for the proposed Yellowjacket Project (https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=57654). The project includes plans for “vegetation management activities” on approximately 2,300 acres about 16 miles east-northeast of Meeker near Wilson Park, Sawmill Mountain and Ellison Mountain. The proposal includes plans for timber harvesting.

The board announced a special work session planned for Wednesday afternoon to prepare for  reopening the county government, discussion about how businesses within the county can begin to reopen, and are planning to follow the lead of Mesa and Eagle county commissioners in drafting a letter to Gov. Polis that explains why Rio Blanco County is different than urban counties and should be able to determine its own course for returning to normal and dealing with COVID-19.

By NIKI TURNER | editor@ht1885.com

2 Comments

  1. Hi Dawn,
    The county is finalizing the documentation on our public health orders and we’ll publish that as soon as it’s complete. ~Niki

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