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Improvements Announced Following Audit of Pennsylvania’s Child Abuse Hotline

Yesterday, the results of the Auditor General’s audit of ChildLine, the state’s child abuse hotline, were released, detailing eight findings and twenty-four recommendations. Both Auditor General Eugene DePasquale and Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Ted Dallas praised DHS for the improvements implemented following the interim report released in May, and Secretary Dallas promised to continue to implement changes needed to improve policy and practice.

Launched in December 2015, the audit evaluated the effectiveness of DHS’ intake process through ChildLine, and sought to determine whether calls were being processed in accordance with applicable laws, regulations and policies.

The interim report found that nearly 42,000 (43%) calls to ChildLine had been abandoned or neglected in 2015. Further, only 48% of child abuse clearances were processed on time, with an average processing time was 26 days – 12 days over the statutory requirement. The interim report was issued to allow DHS to take immediate corrective action rather than waiting until the audit was finalized.

DHS’ changes since May focused on adding staff, improving staff training, and better utilizing technology to record and monitor all calls and streamline the reporting process. These efforts resulted in 3.3% of unanswered calls in June, which further improved to under 2% in September. DHS also announced 100% of all child abuse clearance requests are now being processed on time, on average within two days.

DePasquale said Wednesday additional improvements are still needed. The most recent findings noted delayed referrals and a lack of an established training program for ChildLine caseworkers during calendar year 2015. Outcomes from child abuse and neglect investigations were also missing or submitted after the 60-day deadline, with 12,153 (10% of all reports requiring an outcome) lacking an investigation outcome. Further, auditors found that nearly 11,000 records of ChildLine reports received in 2015 were missing from their database, 352 of which were due to mis-numbering and the remainder having been deleted by caseworkers.

To learn more about the recent changes to the Child Protective Services Law, child abuse clearances and mandated reporting information, you can visit DHS’ website www.KeepKidsSafe.pa.gov. The ChildLine audit report is available online at: www.PaAuditor.gov.

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