This Week’s update focused on family safety, health and well-being, how to protect children and families, and what we can expect from State agencies and their service provider partners. We were joined by Katherine Stoher, Deputy Commissioner of Operations, New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) and Laura Johnson, Assistant Research Professor at the Center on Violence Against Women and Children (housed within the Rutgers University School of Social Work) to discuss family well being during COVID-19. More than 140 participants attended this webinar.

Deputy Commissioner Stoher provided an overview of the types of services families can access. Additional challenges families are facing due to COVID-19 are access to food, financial insecurities and housing needs. Additionally, parents having to take on the extra task of schooling at home can add additional stress to an already stressful situation. She also talked about child care for essential workers, the importance of staying connected while we are social distancing, and strategies for resilient families. Her presentation includes a number of resources.

And while reports to DCF of domestic violence and child maltreatment may be down during COVID-19, this is more likely and indicator of hidden abuse than of a decline in abuse. Dr. Laura Johnson reported that research has found an association between disasters and increased domestic violence. On average, one in four women and one in ten men are victims of domestic violence. She also discussed the impacts of domestic violence in the workplaces. She reminded us that many local domestic violence shelters are still operating in creative ways during COVID-19. Her presentation also contains a number of resources.