As restrictions loosen in our region, many kids are heading back into classrooms.
However, a grim reality weighs on social workers, as they prepare for a rise in child abuse cases.
Before the pandemic, teachers were often the first to raise red flags of possible child abuse because of the daily interaction with their students.
But for nearly a year, they have been distance learning and interacting with children solely through a computer screen.
During this time, the number of reported child abuse cases dropped.
Michelle Moses is the Director of Pathways in Santa Maria and helps to place at-risk kids in foster care.
She says as schools reopen and with more eyes on children, she expects case numbers to rise.
”Educators are trained to know that something may not be right in a situation or that a family may need support or preventative things before things get to a place where they have to be detained. Educators aren’t able to implement those things because everything is online," Moses said.
Many Central Coast families and beyond open their homes to foster children and often adopt kids in need.
With the anticipated rise in cases, more local foster homes are needed in San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County.
You can find out how to become a foster parent, donate, volunteer or get involved with Pathway Family Services by visiting their website here.