Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline 2020 Data Shows 13 Percent Drop in Calls

February 2, 2021

DENVER (Feb. 2, 2021) – The Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline, 844-CO-4-KIDS, experienced a 13% year-over-year drop in calls in 2020 (193,448 in 2020 compared to 219,478 in 2019). Calls from education professionals decreased by nearly 30% and calls from medical professionals decreased by nearly 11% while calls from family and friends increased 5%.

“Usually, we see a drop in calls when school ends for summer, but the decrease started much sooner - in March when remote learning began - and continued throughout the summer until in-person learning resumed in the fall,” said Michelle Barnes, executive director of Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS). “As schools reopened with some form of in-person learning, calls to the hotline increased but have not returned to pre-pandemic levels.”

Risk factors for child abuse and neglect include social isolation, family and parenting stress, financial uncertainty and insecurity, and the absence of child care or school — all factors that increased during the pandemic. In nearly 70% of child welfare cases, counties are able to provide services directly to families to help them address some of these issues so children can remain safely at home with their parents.

“During the pandemic, it is even more important for all of us to reach out to the parents we know and ask how we can help,” said Minna Castillo Cohen, director of the CDHS Office of Children, Youth and Families. “Coronavirus has brought many unknowns but what we do know is that we need one another. Help a family when you can and know that it’s okay to call 844-CO-4-Kids if you’re concerned about a child or youth’s safety and well-being.”

Historically, more than 80% of the child abuse and neglect allegations in Colorado were classified as neglect, not abuse. Strengthening families is the best way to prevent child abuse and neglect, and support from friends, neighbors, employers and all community members can help to build resiliency for families.

Everyone in Colorado can help to strengthen families, even those who aren’t raising a child or working with children or families every day. For example,

  • Be a listening ear for a neighbor who may be having a difficult time.
  • Offer to shovel a neighbor’s sidewalk when it snows.
  • Help a parent connect to or apply for benefits. Let them know it’s okay to need help.
  • Community groups can connect parents to one another to help build support networks. 
  • Employers can allow for flexibility in scheduling where possible.
  • People in the service industry can notice positive parenting moments and offer compliments.
  • Faith communities can offer financial support or goods to families who need it.

The Colorado Department of Human Services CO4Kids campaign encourages all Coloradans to help strengthen families and communities. To learn about the signs of child abuse and neglect and for information about how to become a foster or adoptive parent visit Call 844-CO-4-Kids to report concerns about child abuse and neglect. If a child or teen is in immediate danger, dial 9-1-1.

Contact: Mary Gerlach, 720.306.1762,

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Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline
Available 24 hours a day, every day. Don't hesitate to call and get help. 
Anyone witnessing a child in a life-threatening situation should call 911 immediately.