New Mexico’s child care center workers overseeing more than 50,000 kids are about to get more help when it comes to identifying and reporting child abuse.
“We are advocates for these children and we do want what’s best for the children,” Coronado Children’s Center Co-Director Rogelle Price stated.
CYFD is sending packets this week to the state’s 750 child care centers about its new “Pull Together” initiative, which includes information that tells them how to identify signs of abuse or neglect and report it by calling #SAFE (1-855-333-SAFE), which directs them to the CYFD’s call center.
“[More calls] will help us get the reports that we need so that we can go out, do the investigations to keep these children safe,” CYFD Cabinet Secretary Monique Jacobson said.
Jacobson also said she knew there needed to be an immediate change after the CYFD questioned whether a child care center could have done more to spot a recent child abuse case.
“We reached out to the child care center to talk to them about what they may have seen or known and really ask them why things were not reported. We found that there was just an uncertainty of how to report or what to report,” she added.
She said a similar initiative in New Mexico school districts led to 550 more reports to CYFD over the past two years.
“It’s a double-edged sword: We want them to report which is good because it’s getting eyes on children who need eyes on them. It’s just always sad when we see our child abuse numbers increase,” she stated.
To compare the number of reports, school districts in 2017 called #SAFE 5,387 times, while all of the child care centers made 100 calls, according to CYFD.
CYFD also says another reason child care center reporting numbers are lower than they could be is because some child care workers report to police without knowing they can call CYFD directly.
Woman arrested for Child Abuse after
toddlers found in bug infested trailer
without any food
WASHINGTON COUNTY, UT – A woman has been booked into jail on a charge of child abuse after police say her children were found filthy and underfed in a trailer infested with cockroaches and other bugs.
According to a statement of probable cause, Virginia M. Martinez has been booked on one count of child abuse as a third-degree felony.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office says they responded to Martinez’s home on the Shivwits Reservation April 7 due to a verbal argument between Martinez and a male subject.
Responding officers say Martinez was intoxicated, agitated and hard to reason with and that the inside of the trailer was “destroyed”. Police say there were holes in the walls, floors and ceiling. They said one bathroom had an inoperable toilet inside a shower, while in another bathroom the toilet worked but the shower was inoperable with holes in the floor.
Police say Martinez’s two children were filthy and a 3-year-old boy covered in mud was eating noodles off a counter that were so old they had dried out and changed color. A 2-year-old girl was also found to be very dirty, and both children had bug bites on their bodies. Police say the trailer was infested with cockroaches and other bugs.
Martinez did not have food in the home, documents state, and police say it appears she had no transportation or means to get food. Police say a family member came to the home while officers were there and told them the woman is an addict but doesn’t want to go to rehab to get clean.
Police say they observed the 2-year-old girl playing near a broken porch and asked Martinez to keep an eye on the girl, but the woman told police the girl had fallen before and learned her lesson and would not fall again. The child then fell off the porch and was checked out by medical personnel.
Martinez was arrested for child abuse and for failing to provide safety, proper care or food for her children. Police state the Division of Child and Family Services were to take custody of both children.
Santa Clara County Launches New
Child Abuse Hotline
Santa Clara County, CA officials declared April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, timing the announcement with the launch of a new 24-hour hotline for people to report suspected child abuse.
What they failed to mention, however, is why the county needed a new hotline in the first place: to fix a system that, until recently, was so woefully broken that it left an untold number of children in danger.
In 2013, the county’s Department of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS) came under fire for dropping up to half the calls some months to its child abuse hotline. From July 2012 to the following year, call center operators answered an average of just 62 percent of calls. Only a third of the 18 percent of calls that went to voicemail were ever returned. About one in every five people hung up, frustrated by the hourlong holds.
It’s impossible to say how many valid abuse cases went unreported.
After San Jose Inside’s parent publication Metro Silicon Valley reported on the scathing 2013 audit, the county hired more call center employees and improve its hotline metrics.
“In years past … there was a problem with the phone being answered,” county Child Abuse Prevention Council Vice Chair Steve Baron said in an interview earlier this week. “That problem has been largely rectified.”
Under new leadership, DFCS has since seen a considerable increase in the number of calls answered, Baron said. People reported about 3.5 million child abuse cases each year in the U.S., about 58,000 in the Bay Area and more than 1,800 verified cases in this county alone. In 2017, the county hotline logged some 30,000 calls—virtually of which were answered.
“They’re capturing and answering, I believe, over 98 percent of every call that comes in now,” he told San Jose Inside. “Sometimes people just hang up or they change their mind so that accounts for the 2 percent. But now there’s a human being answering the phone and they’re capturing those calls.”
Gilbert Murillo, who oversaw the child abuse reporting center during the time it was dropping half its calls, said the county had reduced wait times to 16 seconds by last year.
For people who would rather not speak to anyone, there’s also an option to go straight to voicemail—a feature included for the newly launched hotline as well. And according to DFCS Director Francesca LeRúe, every single one of those voicemails gets returned.
The county’s newly announced hotline—833-SCC-KIDS (833-722-5437)—will field calls around the clock and will eventually replace the current system, which consists of multiple phone numbers.
“We have three different numbers in Santa Clara County, so it’s very confusing for people,” LeRúe said. “We just thought it was important to streamline the process, to have one number, and then decided it was important that it should be, in fact, toll-free.”
Funding will remain unchanged with the new streamlined system, she said, and may eventually save money.
But those three existing hotline numbers will stay in place for another year to give the county time to inform people about the new one.
The first big push in promoting the hotline comes as part of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, LeRúe said. The county encourages the community to wear blue on Friday to call attention to the cause, and to attend the 36th annual Child Abuse Prevention Council Symposium on April 27 in Campbell.
“There’s still a lot of awareness that needs to come to the community to let people know some facts about what child abuse is, what child neglect is,” LeRúe said. “Everybody in Santa Clara County plays a big role in protecting children, it’s everybody’s responsibility.”
County social workers, executives and @SupCindyChavez raise awareness about protecting children from abuse. #ChildAbusePreventionMonth event highlights new toll-free number to Report Child Abuse in #SantaClaraCounty. Call (833) SCC-KIDS (833-722-5437) 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week pic.twitter.com/uL4yzMArpr
— Santa Clara County (@SCCgov) April 4, 2018
STARKVILLE, MS – It’s a problem that plagues every community, child abuse.
“A child is an innocent person and often times they really can’t be able to help themselves,” said West Point Police Chief Avery Cook.
Law enforcement said they’re seeing a rise in the number of reported child abuse cases.
Sally Kate Winters Family Services reports from 2016 to 2017, the organization saw a 73 percent increase in the number of child abuse interviews they conducted.
The abuse comes in different forms, and Sally Kate Winters is on the front-line in many of these investigations.
“Sally Kate Winters provides forensic interviews for child victims of abuse, so we do felony child abuse investigations and we interview kids who’ve been abused,” said Morgan Colley, Children’s Advocacy Center Advocate at Sally Kate Winters Family Services.
Now the organization is sharing its knowledge.
During a Child Abuse Investigation Training on Monday, law enforcement officers, child protective services, and first responders learned new techniques for spotting signs of mistreatment.
“We’re trying to help provide law enforcement with every tool that they need to investigate child abuse and child sexual crimes especially,” said Steven Woodruff, investigator for the district attorney’s office. “We’re seeing an uptake in that in our community, and we don’t think that it’s just now starting to happen, we think that it’s just beginning to be reported more.”
“We’re doing two different presentations, one on corroborating evidence, so we have a child that discloses something and getting them to think about some of the minor details that a child might bring up in their testimony to make their story come alive,” said Jim Holler, who conducted Monday’s training session. “This afternoon we’re doing one more investigative piece, especially physical abuse investigations and what the investigators can do to help the kids to help make their stories come alive.”
Holler is a former police chief with more than three decades of law enforcement experience.
He said the tools everyone learned during the training session are important and can help prosecutors be more effective.
“Just trying to put all the facts together and making sure that we’ve got the details, so we can bring a strong case to our prosecutors office, and hopefully that case will be strong enough to go proceed without a child having to testify,” said Holler.
Sally Kate Winters and the district attorney’s office co-sponsored the training session.