Stephen Mittons, a child protection investigator with the state Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in Illinois is one such caretaker. Stephen is charged with investigating allegations of abuse and neglect of children through home visits, and his essential work hasn’t ceased because of COVID-19.

His home visits include direct and close contact with all members of a family, including the elderly, who are at high risk of contracting the virus, yet his access to personal protective equipment is limited.

“We’ve been designated as ‘essential’ staff but only have access to equipment as it becomes available,” he said. “The bulk of resources is reserved for health care and first responders. We are pushing for DCFS field staff to be considered first responders. Without PPE, we could possibly go home and infect our families or bring the infection to homes we investigate.”

In the face of danger, Stephen’s resolve to do his duty is ever stronger: “Sometimes you end up giving more thought and consideration to the safety of these children than you do for yourself or your family. This is the work that we do.”

Read more about Stephen’s work and what the federal government should do to protect him on the job here.