Social workers voice concern for increased stress in at-risk homes amid pandemic

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, social workers are really concerned not just for their own health as they check on families, but also the safety of children during these increasingly stressful times.

“I think the part that is maybe not coming through all that much is that families need a great deal of support right now,” said Joan Granger-Kopesky of Hennepin County Child and Family Services.

You could say social workers have been somewhat forgotten on the frontlines of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, but they're still showing up and going into homes where children and at-risk people are being mistreated every day.

FOX 9 spoke with two Hennepin County social workers who say they're coming up with creative ways to still have the important conversations that often save lives.

“Talking to kids through windows—maybe on the back porch when the weather gets nice—using FaceTime with families,” said Katie Erickson of Hennepin County Child and Family Services.

Nationwide, social workers, counselors and others who treat abuse victims are deeply concerned about the extreme stress that families have been thrust into. Financial worries and constant isolation at home can trigger abuse.

Already this week in Texas, two preschool children from separate families have died from suspected child abuse. Experts fear the worst is yet to come.

“Being in your house with your kids can be a really challenging experience,” said Granger-Kopesky. “Kids have had their routines disrupted, parents have had their routines disrupted—it’s just a really challenging time and to the extent that we can all be thinking collectively about who we know and how we can support them for prevention and harm to children as well.”

Social workers are worried about their own health as well. They don't really have the protective gear that's desperately needed by first responders and doctors right now, but they say they will continue to fight for those who don't have a voice.

"Really just meeting them where they are at in that aspect is their biggest concern right now and being able to validate that for them,” said Erickson.