Post Content

Child abuse reports increase with return of in-person school, Fairfax County says

The Fairfax County Government Center (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Reports of child abuse and neglect in Fairfax County have fluctuated wildly during the COVID-19 pandemic — based primarily on whether students are attending school in person or remotely.

Prior to the pandemic, Fairfax County Child Protective Services conducted 2,216 family assessments and investigations in fiscal year 2019, which ran from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019, according to the county’s Department of Family Services.

Those are the procedures used to respond to reports of child abuse and neglect, including physical abuse and neglect, mental or emotional abuse, medical neglect, and sexual abuse by a caretaker. Reports are screened by CPS’ hotline staff before a specialist is assigned.

Most reports deemed valid trigger a family assessment, but some require an investigation when the safety concerns are immediate, according to DFS spokesperson Angela Morlu.

The number of assessments and investigations dipped slightly to 2,113 in fiscal year 2020 (July 1, 2019-June 30, 2020) before a more substantial decline to 1,878 responses in fiscal year 2021.

“This decrease is almost exclusively due to a reduction in reports from schools (primarily due to the COVID pandemic’s impact on in-person instruction),” Morlu told FFXnow by email.

With nearly all Fairfax County Public Schools students resuming in-person classes this past August, reports of child abuse and neglect have skyrocketed. At the current pace, the county will reach 2,500 assessments and investigations for this fiscal year when it ends on June 30 — surpassing both pre-pandemic numbers and the 2,088 responses projected at the beginning of the year.

“Reports are increasing primarily due to the increased visibility of students returning to in-person instruction,” Morlu said.

Like at other public school districts, FCPS employees are required by state law to report suspected child abuse and neglect. When schools closed statewide in March 2020, the Virginia Department of Social Services saw a 98% decline in child welfare calls from schools, with calls from all sources dropping 45% between February and April 2020.

However, a national study released in October 2021 found that physical abuse of school-aged children tripled between March and September 2020, and the nonprofit Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN) of Northern Virginia reported an increase in the severity of cases during the pandemic.

The isolation of the initial months of the pandemic created similar challenges for addressing domestic violence, which increased globally in 2020 to the point where the United Nations called violence against women in particular a “shadow pandemic.”

In Fairfax County, police reported a slight decrease in domestic assaults last year compared to 2020, but an uptick in adult children killing family members contributed to an increase in homicides.

According to DFS, more than 2,600 kids in Fairfax County got involved with Child Protective Services during fiscal year 2021. The CPS hotline received approximately 11,000 calls specifically for protective services, the Board of Supervisors said in a proclamation designating April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

“Child abuse and neglect cuts across all demographic areas and impacts our entire community,” DFS says on its webpage for the occasion. “We know through research that adverse childhood experiences like child abuse result in long term health impacts and increased costs to society.”

The month’s theme this year is “Words Matter.” The county encourages the community to raise awareness about the issue of child abuse and urges parents and caregivers to build up their kids’ “sense of worth.”

Anyone who’s concerned about a child’s well-being, wants to report or talk about a possible abuse or neglect situation, or needs counseling and other resources can contact the Fairfax County Child Protective Services (CPS) Hotline at 703-324-7400, TTY 711.

Recent Stories

A new self-storage facility appears likely to replace a soon-to-be-demolished, four-decade-old warehouse in Herndon. On Monday (Sept. 26), the Town of Herndon’s Planning Commission unanimously approved plans to construct a…

The Vienna Planning Commission made clear Wednesday (Sept. 28) that in concept, it’s in favor of redeveloping the Vienna Courts offices as duplex housing, but the lack of open space…

(Updated at 11:20 p.m.) An October weekend once filled with fall events is starting to clear out, as Fairfax County braces for Hurricane Ian. The storm that devastated Florida after…

Morning Notes

Fare-Free Connector to Metrorail Transfers Start Tomorrow — “To continue to improve transit service in Fairfax County, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors recently approved service and fare changes on…

Are you tired of going to the gym? It might be the crowds, the locker room, waiting on equipment or the time it takes to commute to the gym.

Having a personal trainer come to your home will keep you accountable, save you time and allow you to workout in the comfort of your own home.

Skip the hassle of the gym and try our in-home personal training service.

Our services are reasonably priced, convenient, effective and are risk free.

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

Ending your marriage and living in the shadows of its pain is one thing, but when children (2 and 4 legged ones) are involved it’s not only about you. Divorce Mediation is the way to resolve the past and establish a solid, cooperative foundation to reorganize the relationship with your former partner. Everyone involved will benefit and you will gain peace-of-mind. Divorce Mediation is the cost effective way to negotiate your divorce and sign a Separation Agreement that is equitable and fair. 

Walid Jawad will facilitate the divorce process in a calm and thoughtful manner to help you establish the foundation for your next phase in life.  Walid’s 5-Star google reviews is a testament to his dedication to limiting divorcing couples’ stress during this intense transitional period.

Mediate your divorce virtually from the convenience of your kitchen table for $1,200 and save yourself the average Virginia cost of $15,000 per divorce and $22,000 with children. Make a complimentary appointment with Walid at Aether Mediation here:

Submit your own Community Post here.

Reston Home Tour

Reston Museum’s 20th Reston Home Tour features homes include an award-winning modern masterpiece tucked back in a wooded oasis, a beautifully-landscaped personal “club house” offering amazing views of the golf course, a newly-renovated Reston Town Center townhouse with a water

Ravel Dance Company presents the Nutcracker Ballet

The Ravel Dance Company will present this holiday tradition for the 2nd year at the gorgeous Capital One Hall main stage. It is a wonderful way to start the holiday season. Follow Clara through her journey to the Pine forest,


Subscribe to our mailing list