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Nationwide spike in child abuse has officials calling on city for greater investment in services

(Photo by Todd Maisel)

With children still out of school an 50% of reports of abuse to New York’s Statewide Central Register from educators, medical staff and law enforcement, City Council members are banding together to call on Mayor Bill de Blasio levy resources toward protecting kids in the five boroughs.

Council members Francisco Moya and Adrienne Adams were two signatures at the top of a letter advocating for services such as the Jewish Child Care Association (JCCA) to be integrated into any programs the city launches combat what they claim to be a crisis of underreporting with 30-70% fewer complaints of child abuse and neglect nationwide.

“JCCA is already on the front lines in NYC’s hardest-hit communities like Mott Haven in the Bronx and East Flatbush in Brooklyn, providing both in-person and virtual programming that builds coping skills, engages children and parents, and intervenes when a crisis nears,” the letter stated. “We are asking for the administration to dedicate resources and funding to allow for an integration of various services as the city begins to open again. This could include community-based organizations already serving New Yorkers partnering together, organizations like food banks, housing services and direct service providers can reach families to help them weather this relentless storm.”

According to the letter, children are crossing the city’s radar too late leaving the youngest vulnerable to abuse while the COVID-19 crisis creates additional friction for the poorest New Yorkers. Up to a quarter of families in the five boroughs live in poverty, according to the group; a similar figure was recorded at 30% by amNewYork in 2017.

“The COVID-19 crisis has caused skyrocketing stress for every family, but families in the communities hit hardest by the virus are grappling with unthinkable burdens and loss — loved ones dying and getting sick, cramped living situations, financial strain and job loss, food insecurity and the pressures of online learning. The pandemic shows no sign of disappearing, so we must find more and better ways to reach families facing these extraordinary stresses,” Ronald Richter, executive director of JCCA, said. “To keep children safe and families intact, we need a more coordinated and proactive outreach system in place to ensure caregivers have the support and resources they deserve before they reach a breaking point.”

New York City’s 2020 budget was not kind to any agency, all of which saw cuts in one form or another. 

For example, the Administration for Children’s Services was allotted $2.9 billion in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget; in 2020, they only received $2.7 billion for their operating budget. 

The Mayor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

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