As a coalition of Charlottesville-based nonprofit organizations that work closely to ensure the well-being and safety of children every day, we are alarmed by the devastation that COVID-19 is causing for local families. Children and families in our community are in crisis, many suffering silently in fear and isolation. The emotional and economic strain of this global crisis is a collective trauma that is being experienced most acutely by families with the least resources. Research shows that the persistent stress caused by this fear, isolation and economic hardship can be detrimental to a child’s healthy development and exponentially increases rates of child abuse and domestic violence.

While much remains uncertain, there is already a pressing need for family support programs and trauma counseling and this will grow in the months and years to come. We are heartened by the swift and extraordinary generosity of our community, but just as food, housing and financial assistance are urgent and essential, so too are safety and secure, supportive relationships for families in distress. Supporting children’s social and emotional needs with evidence-based services is the key to building resilience and grit. It is critical now and for long-term health and well-being.

April is the Month of the Young Child and Child Abuse Prevention Month. It is a good time to be reminded of our collective duty to ensure that safety and security are prioritized for our youngest, most vulnerable community members. We urge you to join us in our unwavering commitment to protect our community’s children, reach out to isolated families and ensure child advocacy organizations have ample resources to provide ongoing support for vulnerable children.

Thank you for your support.

Jacki Bryant, Executive Director

Mary Coleman, Executive Director
City of Promise

Athena Gould, Executive Director
Big Brothers Big Sisters

Cynthia Hurst, Executive Director
Foothills Child Advocacy Center

Alicia Lenahan, President and CEO
Piedmont CASA

Jon Nafziger, Executive Director
Child Health Partnership

James Pierce, Executive Director
Boys & Girls Club of Central VA