The Covid pandemic is unprecedented and has resulted in many challenges for all of us.
Feelings of isolation, fear, and anxiety are common—and understandable. But certain at-risk individuals face an even greater danger: violence and abuse from those who are closest to them. The unexpected stressors and financial burdens from the pandemic have created new, highly stressful situations. While domestic abuse often involves adults in an intimate relationship, children are often among the most at risk in situations where an adult is prone to violent or abusive behavior.
As schools shut down and shelter-in-place orders were implemented in the first quarter of 2020, domestic violence hotlines expected a surge in calls. With abusers and their victims trapped together, it seemed inevitable that such violence would escalate. Things unfolded a little differently than expected, however. While calls rose in some areas, call volumes actually dropped, steeply, in many other areas.
Sadly, experts suspect that this does not reflect a sudden drop in abuse. Quite the opposite. They believe that abuse cases increased, but victims were unable to contact service providers safely, for fear of further abuse.
Job loss, and job insecurity, have created even greater economic dependence among some victims, who lack the resources to escape their situations or remove their children from harm’s way. Simultaneously, stressors on adults have been mounting. School and daycare closures mean more children are staying home and the burden of their education is transferred to the adults in their lives. Added pressures, including the need to homeschool, while trying to make ends meet, have contributed to rising stress — and escalating risks of abuse in the community.
The Hidden Pandemic of Violence in the Home
A leading medical publication, The New England Journal of Medicine, has called this “a pandemic within a pandemic.”
While doctors and clinicians are typically able to look for signs of domestic or child abuse when seeing patients privately, fewer visits to doctors and emergency rooms have conspired to make even this safety valve less available to victims or their advocates.
In fact, pandemics and other times of civil unrest or uncertainty have historically resulted in higher incidences of violence against women and children.
Among the known factors that may contribute to rising violence are obvious ones, such as economic insecurity and poverty-related stress, and social isolation (which is magnified by shelter-in-place orders, quarantines, and widespread avoidance of social gatherings and interactions.) Fear and uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pathogen itself, and the disease it causes, is another stressor, even in the absence of illness.
Mental health is a legitimate concern under such circumstances. Experts fear that the cycle of abuse, including domestic abuse (most often affecting women, but occasionally involving men who suffer such abuse), and child abuse, is being perpetuated and amplified.
Another Public Health Crisis
Essentially, the rise in cases of child abuse and domestic violence represents another public health crisis hiding in plain sight within the more obvious and well-documented public health crisis that is the Covid pandemic.
All over the world, evidence of rising domestic violence is emerging, but few governments have made provisions for abuse victims who may have been trapped with their abusers, thanks to shelter-in-place mandates and restrictions on movement. Many shelters, for example, were forced to close for lack of adequate social-distancing space. Some governments have responded by securing hotel rooms for abuse victims, so they can shelter safely away from their abusers — and the threat of infection from similarly affected strangers.
For immediate help in a crisis:
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
- The National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-422-4453
- The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
- Olive Crest: 800.550.CHILD x 1234
We have qualified caseworkers on standby and the resources to help.
Now more than ever, America needs a renewed focus on caring — and giving. In this unusually challenging time, we encourage you to dig deep, open your heart and consider a donation to an organization that works hard to keep kids safe and families together: Olive Crest.
At-Risk Children Need Your Help
Olive Crest is a nonprofit composed of families and child-advocacy experts helping families to help stop the cycle of poverty, despair, and potential violence.
When it comes to children at risk for neglect, abuse, or other adverse childhood experiences, there are many factors at work.
By providing the resources and support families need to break the patterns of harmful behaviors, we enable them to realize their potential as loving, nurturing family units. We believe children thrive when they have a strong support network, which is why we equip them with the resources they need to stay together and work with them to restore families to a place of healthy functionality and resilience.
We recognize, support, and appreciate the value of the child welfare system. But we also believe children deserve every possible chance to remain within a healthy, loving family. An important part of our mission is to facilitate that possibility by making homes safer for kids, and by providing parents the resources they so desperately need to unlearn unhealthy patterns and develop better strategies for coping, so that families may thrive.
We Can’t Do It Alone
Olive Crest is recognized as a highly-effective care provider for children in crisis. As such, we receive up to 80 percent of our operational funding from the state. But that means we rely on generous donations from individuals to make up our lean, not-for-profit annual budget. Sometimes, children and families can’t do it on their own. They need help. Help that can only come from generous contributors like you; individuals who recognize that our children represent our future.
We are among the few child and family charities that focus not only on child safety but on breaking generations-old negative patterns and behaviors in families, helping families “reboot” and discover better strategies for coping with the daily struggles of life. We help to ensure the sanctity of birth families, and we provide firm but gentle guidance for parents and guardians who seek to do better for their children.
To further this essential work, we need your assistance. Help us help families remain united, while also thriving.
Your contribution helps make all the difference in countless lives, in multiple ways, and may ripple throughout multiple lives, fostering positive change for generations to come.
Your generous contribution goes toward the tireless work of stopping child abuse and neglect and helping families struggling with issues ranging from unemployment and homelessness to substance abuse and mental health issues.
Every contribution remains within the community where it was given, so you can rest assured you will be making a difference right where you live.
In times like these—when workers are being laid-off and children no longer have school lunches—it can be uncertain where a family’s next meal will come from. That’s why on March 26, cars were lined up for blocks to get into the parking lot at Olive Crest in Orange County—all filled with families hoping to pick up groceries generously donated by supporters.
Retailers in the grocery industry are regular supporters of Olive Crest—and they generously stepped up to donate more than 50 pallets of food. Families were notified through flyers and social media, and flocked to the drive-thru event.
Many cars driving through represented multiple families with many children at home, and they were gifted with an unexpected hot lunch from an In n’ Out—another supporter graciously helping out families.
After six hours, 3,000 bags of groceries were gifted to families in need. More than 60 dedicated Olive Crest staff lent a helping hand to the drive-thru efforts.
“In these challenging times, it is a gift to serve our vulnerable Olive Crest Families,” said Jennifer Halliburton, Church Engagement and Community Involvement Director for OC in Orange County. “We are especially grateful for our church and community partners who continue to give sacrificially to support safe children and strong families.”
Support for Olive Crest children and families goes a long, long way. Transforming lives comes in all shapes and forms, from helping at-risk kids directly to supporting them indirectly through undergirding volunteer families and resource families when they take them in. All of this ensures that Olive Crest kids not only have safe and loving homes, but stable, loving homes. It truly takes a village to raise and support children. And stability and permanency are key factors in minimizing the trauma children experience when they cannot be with their birth family for a short or long period of time.
So when Rooted Ministries out of Southwest Church in Indian Wells (in the Desert Communities) brought items that will bless children and host families in the Safe Families for Children program, we were amazed. Their donation will allow several local churches to collectively support Safe Families for Children efforts in their community. And because of Rooted Ministries, these local churches can provide host families with diapers, formula, or gift cards to help meet the kids’ needs.
The items, from stuffed animals to school supplies, will benefit kids of all ages. This year, Rooted Ministries particularly focused on older teens to make sure that would have the school supplies they need to thrive.
We’re ever grateful to the families that open their homes to at-risk children through Safe Families for Children, and we are also grateful for partners like Rooted Ministries that support the entire family through this process. It’s all worth it to ensure that more families are able to stay together in the end.
Opening your home to children in need as a foster family or safe family can bless children and parents alike: like Jesse and Shannon Thompson who learned about becoming a Safe Family for at-risk children from another host family at their local home school group. Through Olive Crest’s Safe Families for Children program (SFFC), parents experiencing a temporary crisis can arrange for their children (newborn through 18 years) to stay with Safe Families for Children volunteers while they address the issues that led to the instability in their lives. (The goal is to keep children out of the child welfare system.)
The Thompsons later inquired with Olive Crest and went through the application process. Once approved, they started hosting children in need of temporary care right away. And they continue to serve as a host family with Safe Families for Children through Olive Crest in the Desert Communities.
Their son Jadon also wanted to give back in some way. So he chose Olive Crest as his charity to donate birthday gifts he received from his friends at his 10th birthday party. We’re grateful to the Thompson family for opening their home to serve the community—and to Jadon for using his birthday to help strengthen children and families.
Giving back and helping those in need will often not only make an impact in the lives of those in need, but will have a lasting impact on many. Thank you to families like the Thompsons for opening their homes and hearts to Olive Crest kids.
It’s such a blessing to see how connections bring so many unexpected blessings to Olive Crest children and young adults. Here’s just one example . . .
Together We Rise is an organization committed to improving the lives of children in foster care. They do this by collaborating with individuals, companies, and community partners who are willing to share their resources.
Recently, Together We Rise donated 22 new bicycles to Olive Crest. These bikes will be a great help to our 18- to 20-year-old young adults. Many cannot afford a car and must use other transportation, like the bus. These bikes will allow them to go to class or work without having to rely on others. Plus, bikes are inexpensive to own and don’t need gasoline.
You never know how and when Olive Crest kids will receive a special blessing.
One of Jenny’s earliest memories was going into her parents’ room and discovering her dad beating her mother. “He had her down on the floor and was pounding her with his fists,” Jenny recalls. “Her face was all bloody.”
When Jenny’s parents divorced, things didn’t get much better. Jenny and her sister stayed with their mother. “She was a mean drunk,” Jenny remembers.
Desperately seeking safety
Home was not a safe place for Jenny. “I ran away from home for the first time when I was nine,” she said. Over the next few years, she ran away several more times.
Eventually, by God’s grace, Jenny wound up at Olive Crest. She experienced love and kindness for the first time. She even had her first birthday party there.
Just before she turned 13, Jenny went to summer camp. It was here that Jenny heard about the love of Jesus and was baptized in the lake. She was thrilled with her new life.
A new family for Jenny
Jenny’s experience in an Olive Crest home had a dramatic impact on her. This time helped shape the rest of her life, ins
tilling in her a sense of community and values. She learned that God loved her, and she began to trust people again.
Today, Jenny is married to a loving man named Tony. She gives Olive Crest much of the credit. “Olive Crest gave me so many tools for living a healthy life, and I will be forever grateful.”
Sadly, with the changing economy, many more families are experiencing financial crisis, unemployment or homelessness. Others are dealing with family violence, parental drug and/or alcohol abuse, illness, or incarceration. During such crises, many parents are not capable of providing a safe and caring environment for their children. Today, many families are socially isolated and their extended family is non-existent or not available. The children in a family traumatized by crisis become especially at risk for neglect or abuse as their parents struggle to cope with crushing circumstances and emotions. Often leading them to be placed within the foster care system.
Thankfully through Olive Crest’s Safe Families for Children program (SFFC), parents experiencing a temporary crisis can arrange for their children (newborn through 18 years) to stay with Safe Families for Children volunteers while they address the issues that led to the instability in their lives. And on October 10, 2019 a Safe Families for Children annual dinner was held at The Bowers Museum in Santa Ana to raise funds for these Orange County Safe Families initiatives.
9 year old Isaiah, accompanied by his mom Shakara, welcomed everyone to the dinner. For a time he, along with his siblings, were hosted by a Safe Family host family while his mom was in the hospital. Keeping his family together during a time of family transition. Special attendees and honorees also included Frank and Nancie Carpenter, Olive Crest’s very first Safe Families host family (2012).
We are so thankful for families like theirs who continue to open their homes and hearts to families in need. It is through them and safe families like yours that Early Intervention, Child Abuse Prevention, and Family Support and stabilization can be provided.
If you would like more information about becoming a temporary host family through Safe Families for Children or receiving support for your family through SFFC click here.