During the coronavirus pandemic, Black people have disproportionately been affected more than any other group. We took a hit on job losses, access to vaccines, and inadequate health care. Unfortunately, none of that was surprising. What’s been shocking, however, is what came out of a new national child welfare report, which claimed a rise in deaths of Black children, per the Associated Press.
This data comes from the 2020 Child Maltreatment Report, which was recently released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; the report covers information from October 2019 to September 2020 and gives a sample size of how COVID-19 affected the work of child welfare workers.
According to the Associated Press, child fatalities are often underreported because social workers only investigate a child’s death if the family was already involved with child welfare services. So the already alarming numbers could be even higher.
There has been a 4 percent decrease in overall child abuse-related deaths, but a 17 percent increase in the number of Black children who died. The report claims 504 Black children died from October 2019 to September 2020, which 73 more children than the previous report.
From the Associated Press:
“Disparities that were present before the pandemic were intensified, and COVID-19 exposed gaps in our human services delivery system,” Aysha E. Schomburg, of the department’s Children’s Bureau, said in a statement.
The report noted an overall 10% drop in the number of child protective services cases handled by states in the early days of the pandemic. That’s a troubling trend that the Associated Press first reported last year with an analysis of state child welfare data.
The federal data confirm a drop by hundreds of thousands in documented cases of child abuse reports, investigations, substantiated allegations and support for at-risk families. But experts say that’s not necessarily good news — children were out of the public eye during the pandemic, and some cases likely weren’t reported until they became more severe, if at all.