DHS workers make modifications during pandemic

Posted at 4:06 PM, Apr 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 20:21:04-04

EL PASO COUNTY — Telehealth is becoming the standard during COVID-19. For the Department of Human Services caseworkers in El Paso County, technology isn't always available when responding to abuse reports. Leading some workers to hold interviews through windows, or send technology to clients.

"We're currently doing business as usual," said April Jenkins, Children, Youth, and Family Services Manager with El Paso County, "obviously things are different but we've been very adaptable."

Jenkins adds Coronavirus screening questions are being done prior for home visits. She says some families are fearful about having a caseworker come by in person.

"We are having to guide families in helping families understand our role" Jenkins said.

With the concerns of COVID-19 and most families at home, caseworkers are being given personal protective equipment (PPE) which includes hazmat suits, paper gowns, masks, and gloves.

Caseworkers can't always get into the home- which is why they're getting creative in how they respond to certain calls. Either through video conferencing, or if there's a need for an in-person visit, caseworkers are doing interviews with social distancing on the front porch or through windows. In some cases, DHS is finding ways to provide technology for family members.

"We've had a Dad, he put the kids in the car, drove them to the end of the driveway allowed the caseworker to see the kids in the car," said Jenkins, who credits the creativity of her caseworkers.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Another concern right now, is kids not physically being in school and around teachers, who are mandatory reporters of abuse. Jenkins says they've seen the number of reports decrease since some of the protections against COVID-19 are in place.

The Department of Human Services wants everyone to know there are ways to report instances of abuse. For information on how click here: Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline.

With the elderly population considered high-risk during the pandemic, it's also having an impact on those caseworkers needing to respond to calls of elder abuse.