During this unprecedented time of social distancing and family stress due to Covid19, Deirdre’s House, the Center for Morris County’s child victims of abuse and/or neglect and for children that have witnessed violence, is continuing to provide services to child victims and their non-offending caregivers. Immediately after the governor’s shelter in place order, Deirdre’s House and its staff of five clinical counselors and two child advocates began providing clinical counseling to over 70 child victims by using Zoom Telehealth, as well as offering crisis food assistance to our child victims who face economic challenges due to their family’s loss of income. As it was before the crisis, Deirdre’s House is also being used by law enforcement for on-site forensic interviews of children in a child-friendly setting that does not further traumatize the child victim.

According to Deirdre’s House Executive Director, Maria Vinci Savettiere, Esq., due to the shelter in place orders children do not have access to the trusted adults who they most often go to for help—teachers, counselors, school staff, coaches, and family friends.  She fears that “due to the isolation of the pandemic that thousands of children who have been the victims of sexual assault, physical or emotional abuse may be suffering in silence.” Deirdre’s House is calling upon members of the community to help by reaching out to families with children to lend a supportive ear and offer help if needed.

Teachers, school nurses and counselors are the first line of defense when reporting child abuse and/or neglect and Covid19 remote learning, their help is more critical than ever. To help teachers and anyone who may be interacting with children remotely, Deirdre’s House, through materials developed with the New Jersey Children’s Alliance, is providing tools to teachers and school staff through the Morris County Education Collaboration and by posting the information at www.deirdreshouse.org to help them identify children who may be in distress by looking for clues and asking certain questions in their remote interactions.

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Lessening the stress that parents are feeling due to social isolation, financial difficulties, and parenting challenges could help save a child’s life. Community partners like the First Presbyterian Church of New Vernon, are joining with Deirdre’s House to provide grocery and other retail store gift cards to families who are struggling due to loss of income. “By offering financial assistance to families who are struggling to provide food for their families, Deirdre’s House hopes to decrease incidences of child abuse that are often brought on by household stress.” If you would like to donate to help Deirdre’s House continue to provide vital services and assistance to child victims log onto www.deirdreshouse.org .

If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected please call the NJ DCPP a t 1877-NJ-Abuse or your local law enforcement. You could save a child’s life.

About Deirdre’s House

Founded in 1994, Deirdre’s House, is the leading resource for children in Morris County who have suffered abuse, neglect or witnessed domestic violence.  It is the only site in Morris County where a child victim can be interviewed and digitally recorded by law enforcement, medically examined and treated, and clinically counseled in English and Spanish, all free-of-charge and all under one roof.  Since opening it doors, Deirdre’s House has had over 38,000 child visits.

             For more information on Deirdre’s House or to donate to help child victims, log onto www.deirdreshouse.org, and watch our explainer video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=gOXhJEqYYBY&feature=emb_logo