As a community, we all have a role to play protecting children.
Over the past several months, necessary steps including the suspension of schools, daycares, and the cancellation of activities and community groups, have been taken in response to COVID-19. This has been accompanied by business closures, economic instability, social distancing and isolation. Through all this change, children have been, and continue to be, particularly vulnerable.
While kids remain out of school and many families continue to face additional stressors, it is important to maintain connections and check-in regularly.
If you are worried about a child or family you know:
- Reach out through phone calls, text, or video chat. Ask questions about how their day has been, what they have been doing, whether they have any worries or concerns right now.
- Spend time with them. This includes playing online games or watching a movie or tv show “together” over video chat.
- Spending time in-person, following recommended practices (e.g., social distancing, hand washing), may also be a possibility for many now that restrictions are easing.
- Pay attention to their social media posts. Youth or adults may post about their frustrations, fears, or worries online. Follow up directly with the youth or adult if you are concerned about their post and how they are doing.
- Encourage self-care activities that are doable while social distancing. Examples include dancing or listening to music, taking deep breaths, or watching the clouds.
- Provide information about community resources. Give children and youth the number for Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868). Adults can reach out to Canadian Mental Health Association (204-775-6442), Crisis Response Centre (204-940-9781) or Klinic Crisis Line (204-786-8686).
If you are not able to take any of the above steps, or you remain worried about a child or family after connecting with them, contact Child and Family Services (CFS). This is especially important during this time as children are currently disconnected from school and many other activities – the ones that often serve as their safety net when home isn’t a safe place. You do not need to have proof or be certain that a child is unsafe prior to calling CFS – just call and explain why you are worried. Once a call is made, it is the role of CFS to assess the concerns and the child’s safety and connect families with any needed supports.
Resources for Families
Canadian Centre for Child Protection
The Canadian Centre provides programs and resources to help prevent child victimization.
New Directions for Children, Youth, Adults & Families
New Directions offers services, including therapy for children and families recovering from sexual abuse.
Jordan’s Principle is a federal program that ensures all First Nations children living in Canada have access to the products, services, and supports to meet their health, social, and educational needs.
Marymound Sexual Abuse Treatment Program
Marymound Sexual Abuse Treatment Program offers specialized therapy to children (ages 4-18) and families who have experienced sexual abuse.
Knowles Centre Sexual Abuse Treatment Program
Knowles Centre offers a specialized therapy program for children/youth (ages 4-21) and families who have experienced sexual abuse.
Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre
Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre offers a variety of culturally relevant prevention and support programs to families in Winnipeg.
Family Dynamics offers services to families, including counselling, in-home support, behaviour support, and more.
Specialized Services for Children and Youth (SSCY)
SSCY offers various supports and services to Manitoba children and youth with disabilities and special needs, as well as their families.