COVID-19 has upended the world as we knew it. Unfortunately, with the disruption to daily lives and the addition of unprecedented, pandemic-related stress, this time of crisis came with an increased risk for child maltreatment.
At CHOC, known cases of child abuse and neglect during the pandemic have doubled since 2013—from 300 per year to over 600. Recently, the average number of cases have gone up to 24 per week, a 20% increase over prior periods.
Child abuse can have significant effects on children’s mental well-being, leaving them vulnerable to substance abuse, self-harm, eating and sleeping disorders, academic failure, depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies.
It is not fully understood on what is specifically triggering the surge, but CHOC is both a Level II Trauma Center and a leading destination for pediatric mental health services, which may be why we are seeing a staggering uptick in documented cases. CHOC is often the first stop and the first line of defense when a child’s illness or injury may be the result of abuse or neglect.
Philanthropy Provides Care for Our Most Vulnerable Children
Our philanthropic partners’ compassion and generosity is what shines bright in the darkness, allowing CHOC to provide the vital services needed to meet our community’s increased medical and safety challenges.
Through a $500,000 gift, Andy Peykoff II, president and CEO of Niagara Bottling, and his wife, Jaime, made it possible for CHOC to expand the Child Protection team, creating a broader, more effective system of care with immediate impact in the region.
Among Child Protection’s many services is a Physical Abuse and Neglect Diagnosis and Assessment (PANDA) Clinic, which is intentionally designed and equipped to treat cases of abuse and neglect, along with supporting children and families with access to critical resources.
As a safe and secure setting to start the process of healing, the PANDA Clinic relies on the expertise of a multidisciplinary team of physicians and clinicians to deliver services that wrap around children and teens who have been physically, mentally, sexually and emotionally abused or neglected, or for whom abuse or neglect is suspected. This clinic, the first of its kind in Orange County, provides comprehensive evaluation in severe or complicated cases of abuse or neglect, as well as a link to a wide host of specialty pediatric care services at CHOC and in the community.
The support of the Peykoff Family and Niagara Cares, a philanthropic arm of Niagara Bottling, helps CHOC offer these life-changing but non-reimbursable services to our young patients and their families during their most vulnerable situations.
“We are pleased to provide this donation to CHOC to help them continue their mission of providing the best care possible to children,” says Andy Peykoff II. “As a father of six children, I deeply understand the importance of specialized pediatric care and tending to a child’s medical and emotional needs. The work being done at CHOC is saving and changing young lives every day and my family is proud to be able to support this mission.”
By identifying abuse and neglect earlier and providing prevention resources and education, these services at CHOC are key to keeping children and teens safe and establishing a place where there will be fewer who are at risk of becoming maltreatment victims.
The Peykoff Family has always emphasized their commitment to the communities that Niagara Bottling operates in, and thanks to their commitment to the Child Protection program, CHOC can guide more children on their journey toward healing sooner.
Thank you, Peykoff Family and Niagara Cares, for supporting CHOC and our patients with your kindness and generosity!