Report Child Abuse and Neglect: 800-392-3738

#Essential4Kids: Missouri KidsFirst Announces New Resources to Protect Children from Abuse in Response to COVID-19 Crisis

JEFFERSON CITY (April 1, 2020): Missouri KidsFirst is kicking off #Essential4Kids , a campaign designed to educate adults on how to recognize and respond to child abuse and neglect in our communities during the COVID-19 crisis.

In times of instability and stress, rates of child abuse and neglect increase. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the state, reports to the Missouri Department of Social Service’s Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline have declined dramatically . Missouri KidsFirst is concerned that as children stay at home, they are isolated from those places where adults often look out for their safety and well-being, including schools, child care facilities, places of worship and other public areas. 

With the #Essential4Kids campaign Missouri KidsFirst is urging all adults: family members, neighbors, essential workers serving families in grocery stores and pharmacies and delivering goods to homes, and school professionals who are still working with children virtually, to be aware of their responsibility to protect children. Some helpful guidance outlined in the new resources includes:

  • Trust your gut: If something does not look, sound or feel safe – report.
  • Making a report is asking for help and services: When you report suspected abuse or neglect, you are asking for a professional to help a child and their family. You do not need proof. You are not making an accusation.
  • You may be the only person to act: During these times of isolation, do not assume that someone else has already made the call. Get in touch with Children’s Division and let them know you are concerned. Anonymous reports are accepted.
  • For school professionals working with kids virtually: Remember your role as a mandated reporter and check in with students to let them know you remain a supportive, caring adult in their lives. 

“All adults are essential when it comes to the safety of our kids,” says Joy Oesterly, Missouri KidsFirst’s Executive Director. “We encourage every Missourian interacting with children, virtually or in person, to be mindful of their well-being during this time. Reporting abuse or neglect cannot be postponed.”

The #Essential4Kids page also provides information on how to recognize signs that a child is unsafe and other resources to help families seeking support during this crisis.

To learn more, visit: and follow Missouri KidsFirst on Facebook and Twitter .

Jessica Seitz, Director of Public Policy

#Essential4Kids Resources Available
Kids Need All Adults to Report Abuse
Kids Are Counting on Adults to Protect Them:
This resource is for any adult who interacts with a child. It outlines signs of abuse and neglect and where to report. 

Kids Need Schools to Continue Reporting Abuse
Students not being in school creates barriers to reporting abuse. This resource empowers teachers, counselors, bus drivers, nutrition staff and other school professionals in their role as mandated reporters who are working with children virtually and other non-traditional ways during the COVID-19 crisis.
Kids Need Essential Workers to Report Abuse
Kids Are Counting on Adults to Protect Them: This resource is for home delivery, pharmacy, grocery store and other essential workers keeping our communities running. It outlines signs of abuse and neglect and where to report.
Missouri KidsFirst is not a 24-hour service provider and does not provide crisis services.
For immediate help, please call Missouri’s Statewide Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline: 1-800-392-3738

Contact Us
520 Dix Road, Suite C, Jefferson City, MO 65109
Phone: 573-632-4600