Several Child Abuse Calls Ignored by CPS

People suspecting a child being abused call up a hotline number, with an expectation that a caseworker will investigate upon it, rescuing the poor child from that situation; or else, at least look into it and decide if such report was mistaken.

Reportedly, an Augusta County-area Child Protective Services office ignored and erased dozens of calls to a child abuse hotline. The office serves Augusta County, Staunton and Waynesboro under the Virginia Department of Social Services. This was confirmed through an investigation in Staunton where a voice mail system used for collecting calls wasn’t checked by workers for six months.

According to Elizabeth Middleton, the Shenandoah Valley Social Services (SVSS) director, this news sparked when the information technology staff intended at improving the phone answering service. That’s when it was discovered that more than 200 calls had been ignored. Just about the same time, a pediatrician who couldn’t reach a person on the phone to report an abuse case at the Augusta County voiced his concerns. This was another reason why the investigation got underway.

Ms. Middleton further recalled that there used to be an employee, who would monitor the voicemails, but that he had left by April 2014. The situation could have been a possible result of miscommunication and understaffing with only eleven employees working there.

The messages could have been scanned through, and the team could have admitted the mistake and called in help. The office could have looked into every case, further inquiring any ongoing abuse. But the Child Protective Services didn’t do that. Even after the discovery, staffers failed to follow up on any of the messages of child abuse and neglect. Instead, the Staunton News Leader reported that they were deleted without checked. The County officials confirmed that corrective actions were taken, that included a letter in the employment file of a supervisor who permitted a worker to delete the messages.

The episode presents an outrageous breach of trust and a failure on the part of the department that exists to protect children from violence and neglect, to efficiently carry out its responsibilities. A spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police confirmed that the Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Appomattox field office is reviewing a request from Augusta County’s chief prosecutor to investigate on violation of any related laws related to such receipt or review of messages.

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