AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas schools rank second to only hospitals in reporting child abuse and neglect cases to Child Protective Services, according to data from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
Reports may have dropped when the pandemic forced kids to stay home and learn online, but not for long.
“Right now with school starting back, a lot of case workers and foster agencies are getting back in touch with kiddos that may have gone off the radar for the summer,” said Kristin Finan, the founder of Carrying Hope, a nonprofit based in Austin.
The group’s goal is to provide every child entering foster care with a backpack stuffed with clothes, a tooth brush and toys called a Hope Pack.
“When children are removed from a home in an emergency situation there is no time for them to grab any of those special items,” Finan says.
Finan says Carry Hope is seeing a record-breaking amount of need this year, “we’re on track this year to distribute 4,000 Hope Packs. Last year, we distributed 2,700. It’s quite an increase in need.”
Finan says the increase not only has to do with kids back in the classroom where teachers and staff can spot any potential signs of abuse at home, but the nonprofit is also getting calls from parents in need of hope.
“Some parents are making the decision between going to work or staying home with the child who is not able to go to school. If you have to make that hard decision going to work, then maybe the child isn’t getting what they need at home and doesn’t have anybody to watch them,” Finan says.