Eight states are getting together for the rest of 2021 to work out the best way to help children and families weather the second year of the coronavirus pandemic with a minimum of child neglect and abuse.
Brought together by the bipartisan National Governors Association and Casey Family Programs, member states of the network will meet every month this year to share their strategies and experiences in hopes that they can learn from one another.
Governors’ office representatives will be joined in a new network that also will include child welfare leaders, state human services and education officials and nonprofit partners. Many experts fear that the lockdown has allowed many cases of abuse and neglect that might have been reported in normal times by teachers and others to remain hidden.
As the coronavirus pandemic rolls into its second year, the eight states are trying to put together “action plans” on how best to meet the challenge of preserving and enhancing the well-being of vulnerable children and families amid the second year of ongoing hardship. The network will meet monthly.
The states included in the network are: Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Kansas, New York, Virginia and West Virginia. Alabama, Alaska, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and Oklahoma have also expressed interest, and they and other states may join later.
“The pandemic has affected all Kansans – including our most vulnerable children and families,” Democratic Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said in a statement Tuesday, adding that she hopes the state can emerge in 2021 as a leader in “building a stronger safety net and ensuring all families have the support and opportunities they need to thrive.”
Although death rates from COVID-19 started falling earlier this month as vaccinations increased across the country, the number of cases has been on the rise and experts warn of a fourth wave as weary Americans ease back into “normal” life.
The network’s member states will try to develop and roll out state-specific “action plans” forged in monthly multistate working groups. The members will receive technical assistance from Casey and the National Governors Association.