A worldwide pandemic is not stopping the indispensable work of Social Workers throughout California. Riverside County Social Worker Veronica Rodriguez is still carrying out the momentous job of protecting children from abuse or neglect but has adapted for this unprecedented moment in modern history.
With an N95 mask on, gloves, and other personal protective equipment (PPE), Solis is still doing essential house visits and is using COVID-19 best practices and the required physical distancing to carry them out.
“Social work is still happening, but we are finding new and innovative ways to do that,” says Veronica Rodriguez.
“We want to make sure that not only are we protecting ourselves as workers, but we’re also making sure that the public is safe.”
In many instances, in homes where there is absolutely no allegation of abuse on record, a visit and inspection by Rodriguez can be carried out at the doorstep. For other cases, Rodriguez will go into the home and do what is needed to investigate abuse or neglect — a core part of her work.
On top of the physical modifications to her work, Rodriguez is also using Zoom, Facetime, Skype, and other forms of video communication to do follow-up with low-risk families.
Despite the around-the-clock efforts by Social Workers, the volume of calls to the County from the public to investigate abuse have tapered off.
“I’ve seen a decline in investigations coming in, not to say that child abuse has stopped,” adds Rodriguez.
With the closure of schools and medical offices, and service providers, the vigilant eyes that are often the first ones to spot abuse and report it to the authorities, have also been isolated.
That’s why more than ever it’s imperative for the public to be a good neighbor and to be alert for situations where abuse could be happening in their own building, or neighborhood.
“I encourage everybody to be a good neighbor,” says Rodriguez.
“History shows that abuse just gets worse during a time of crisis, so it’s really important for us to be a community and to support one another during these times.”
We’re all taking note of Rodriguez’s wise words — stay tuned for more stories from the frontlines.