Here is a link to the original story on the team's website.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — When the COVID-19 pandemic reached Southwest Missouri back in March, the impacts on the lives of local residents was immediate. But what happens when those impacts fall onto a portion of the population that is unable to help itself?
Specifically, what happens when kids who are victims of abuse, or drug endangerment, or physical and mental neglect, are suddenly confined to their homes? Well, that’s where Kids’ Harbor steps in.
Based out of Osage Beach and serving Lake of the Ozarks, Fort Leonard Wood and surrounding areas, Kids’ Harbor serves those children by providing resources to keep them safe and to assist with whatever situation they may be enduring. During COVID-19, doing that work instantly became more challenging. But the Kids’ Harbor staff accepted that challenge. And that’s why they’re this week’s Non-Profit Hero award winner, presented by American National Insurance.
You can view all of our Non-Profit Heroes at springfieldcardinals.com/heroes.
“We are so grateful to be chosen as a Cardinals Non-Profit Hero,” Kids’ Harbor Board President Tim Thompson said. “While we have all been dramatically affected by the COVID pandemic, children have suffered the most. Not only do they have to deal with the crisis but we know abuse has gone un-reported while kids have been locked down. Our staff has worked tirelessly to figure out how to serve and protect them all while having to adapt and overcome these challenges we all face.’
“Cardinals and American National support is incredibly helpful in getting this crucial message out: Please be aware and alert for signs of abuse, and if you see something, say something.”
At the onset of the pandemic, the State of Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline experienced a drastic drop (60%) in the number of hotline calls made. Reason being? Forty percent of those calls are made by school personnel.
“Kids, whose safe places had historically been school, church, extracurricular activities, etc., suddenly found themselves alone and isolated with no friends, teachers, or counselors to see them or report concerns,” one Non-Profit Heroes award nominator wrote. “Throughout the pandemic, Kids’ Harbor has continued to spread awareness to encourage the adults in our community to keep kids safe and report any concerns they see.”
Kids’ Harbor has remained open throughout the pandemic, providing forensic interviews and medical exams and providing counseling and advocacy to children and their safe caregivers.
Even if they had to work from home, Kids’ Harbor advocates continued to reach out to families who had experienced trauma and crisis to see how they could provide support and needed services.
Kids’ Harbor also provides support to local law enforcement and others who are tasked with investigating child abuse and related cases. Throughout the pandemic, Kids’ Harbor has found ways to assist in these difficult investigations virtually to make sure that their services continue uninterrupted.
“A big concern during the pandemic was the safety of children,” a Non-Profit Heroes award nominator wrote. “They weren’t being seen by the mandated reporters that they normally see. Stress was much higher than usual. Parents might not be working, money might be tight, kids were at home full time, and they were trying to homeschool their kids. This was a lot more pressure than they were used to. It could cause some people to deal with that stress by hitting their children or other things they normally wouldn’t do. Kids Harbor trained other people in the community on signs to watch for to help protect children.’
“These employees faced the same problems that we struggled with. But they never quit fighting for every child and safe caregiver that needed them. They are heroes every day and they really stepped up and made a big difference during the pandemic.”
How can you get involved?
Volunteers are such a big part of what make all of our Non-Profit Heroes, presented by American National Insurance, so great.
To get involved with Kids’ Harbor, visit kidsharbormo.org.
For more on what Kids’ Harbor is doing on a daily basis, follow them on Facebook at facebook.com/kidsharborinc.