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Jul 26, 2013
More Than 95,000 Reports Assessed in Two Years Since DCFS Launched Child Abuse Hotline

BATON ROUGE - As the statewide, toll-free child abuse hotline - 1-855-4LA-KIDS (1-855-452-5437) - nears the second anniversary of its implementation, the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has assessed more than 95,000 reports of suspected child abuse or neglect.

The hotline, manned 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, provides a simple way for the public and mandated reporters to report suspected child abuse or neglect. Trained child welfare workers staff the hotline to take reports of possible child abuse and neglect, ensuring that no reports are missed and that each report is handled promptly and uniformly according to best practice. Each report is evaluated to determine if it meets the legal criteria for abuse and neglect.

"Each report received by the hotline goes through a multi-level quality assurance process to determine whether it meets the criteria for a child protection investigation and how quickly the investigation needs to be initiated," said DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier. "This ensures that all reports of abuse across the state are evaluated by the same standards and urgency."

The 1-855-4LA-KIDS is part of DCFS' centralized intake program, which provides for more consistent screening and decision making on child abuse and neglect reports statewide. It also allows local DCFS child protection investigation workers more time in the field completing investigations.

As of May, the child abuse hotline had received more than 208,000 calls since its launch. About 113,000 calls were for information or referrals to other services or agencies. However 95,457 calls met the criteria for child abuse intake, and were further evaluated as reports of child abuse or neglect.

"Our primary goal is to keep children safe. We strive to educate the public on knowing the signs and symptoms of child abuse and neglect so they can report suspicions," said Sonnier. "Knowing the signs is critical in helping those children who are affected."

Anyone can report child abuse or neglect by calling the statewide, toll-free hotline 1-855-4LA-KIDS (1-855-452-5437). For more information about reporting child abuse or neglect in Louisiana, visit www.dcfs.la.gov/ReportChildAbuse.

In addition to the general public, Louisiana has mandated reporters who are required by law (Louisiana Children's Code Title VI, Article 603) to report suspected child abuse or neglect.

Mandated reporters are health practitioners, mental health/social service practitioners, members of the clergy, teaching or child care provider, police officers and law enforcement officials, commercial film and photographic print processor, mediators, court-appointed special advocates (CASA), organizational or youth activity providers and coaches. DCFS provides computer-based training free of charge designed to help mandated reporters spot and report child abuse at www.dcfs.la.gov/MandatedReporterTraining. For additional information about mandated reporters, visit www.dcfs.la.gov/ReportChildAbuse.



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