The week of June 7 marked the city's third annual "CPS Week of Appreciation," an opportunity for New Yorkers to recognize and thank the 2,000-plus compassionate experts who investigate reports of suspected abuse and neglect, take action to protect vulnerable children, and help keep families together by providing supportive services.
Child Protective Specialists at NYC's Administration for Children's Services (ACS) investigate approximately 55,000 reports of possible child abuse and neglect each year. And even in the midst of this public-health crisis, that work does not stop. As many New Yorkers have stayed home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Child Protective Specialists are on the front lines. And now, more than ever, their work is vital.
Added Stress a Concern
With families struggling to cope with the pandemic behind closed doors, and in social isolation, it's the job of our Child Protective Specialists to make sure children are not bearing the brunt of the added stress. In keeping children safe, they continue to provide vital, concrete resources and services to families who need a helping hand. They've gone grocery shopping for families and supplied them with clothing. They've provided new parents with diapers, formula and pack-and-plays. They've assisted with technology for distance learning in the home—even helping children with homework. And in more-serious situations, they've arranged to have locks changed for domestic violence survivors.
Like other essential workers, the city's Child Protective Specialists have risen to overcome the unique challenges posed by the pandemic. We've had to develop innovative ways to keep children safe, while also protecting the health of front-line staff and families. While Child Protective Specialists continue to investigate reports of alleged abuse or neglect, many procedures have been modified for health reasons.
Adapting as Needed
For instance, Child Protective Specialists practice social-distancing precautions when meeting with parents and observing children—often seeing children outside the home and using remote technology to speak with parents and other resources—in order to keep everyone safe.
As we rightfully applaud and praise essential workers across the city who are working on the front lines of the pandemic, let us not forget about the essential workers who are keeping children safe from abuse and neglect. I encourage New Yorkers to take a moment to say thank you to, or clap for, our unsung Child Protective Specialists, many of whom leave their own families and children at home to make sure others are safe. To the child protective specialists across the country, and of course right here in New York City, I thank you and I salute you. You should be recognized for the all-important work you continue to do.
Mr. Hansell is the Commissioner of ACS.
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