Department of Family Services

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Monday–Friday 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

TTY 711

12011 Government Center Parkway, Pennino Building
Fairfax, VA 22035

Michael A. Becketts,

Has COVID-19 Put Children at Risk in Their Own Homes?

(Posted 2020 March)

In the midst of this outbreak of COVID-19, many families find themselves facing many of the risk factors for child abuse and neglect: parental stress, economic instability, food insecurity, lack of adequate child care, and lack of normal routines. Consider that in Fairfax County last year 3,031 children were involved with Child Protective Services, enough to fill 56 school buses, and it becomes clear that we can’t ignore the current risk.

The closures of school and workplaces can increase family stress by placing family members in constant contact with each other. On the other hand, some parents who are required to go into work, may make the decision to leave young children unsupervised rather than lose needed income. If children lack the maturity to be home alone, this could have dangerous consequences.

child covering earsChildren may express anxiety by being clingy, and underlying behavioral issues are sure to surface. Parents who are unaccustomed to providing round-the-clock care for their children are likely to have their patience tested.

Even in families that normally have low-stress and a great support network, parents may lash out due to the unusual pressures of these uncertain times. Furthermore, while children and families are out of contact with mandated reporters such as teachers, counselors, and child-care providers, signs of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse may go unnoticed and underreported.

Every child deserves to grow up in a supportive, stable and nurturing environment. Right now, the community must step in to keep eyes on children in your neighborhood, as many of the normal child protective factors are not in place during this crisis. If you have questions or concerns about a child’s safety, call the Child Protective Services’ 24-hour hotline at 703-324-7400. Fairfax County's CPS hotline workers can also provide families with help, guidance, and referrals to supportive services.

Here are some additional resources that can help families manage their stress, cope with the crisis and understand how to support their children through the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).


How to Care for Yourself While Practicing Physical Distancing

How to Cope with Anxiety About Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Managing Stress and Anxiety

Mental Health - Take Care Both Physically and Emotionally During Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Supporting Families During COVID-19: Coping Resources for Parents

Taking Care of Your Emotional Health

Talking to Children and Teens

teen holding head in handsHelping Children Cope with Emergencies

Helping Children and Teens Cope with Anxiety About COVID-19

How Teenagers Can Protect Their Mental Health During Coronavirus COVID-19

Talking to Children About Coronavirus

Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus



Child Supervision Guidelines

Child Supervision Guidelines

Is Your Child Ready to Be Home Alone?

Parenting Tips

Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Advice for the Public: Healthy Parenting

Fairfax County Parenting Education Programs

Fairfax County Father Engagement - Pocket Dad Videos

Routines for Dinner Time

Routines for Bedtime

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month; learn more about it and how you can join the conversation.

This posting is part of the Department of Family Services' Community Corner where you’ll find timely information about upcoming events, parenting and wellness tips, programs and services, and more! Share these helpful posts with your friends and family. Don't miss out on future postings; sign-up today!

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