Audit: state child abuse hotline wait times have tripled in recent years
JEFFERSON CITY - A new report from Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway released Thursday said long wait times for the state's Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline are an ongoing concern, and could potentially cause children to be at greater risk.
The audit found in recent years, there have been improvement efforts made to increase response times of the Hotline Unit, but insufficient staffing has been unable to handle the increasing number of calls to the hotline. According to the report, this has resulted in longer wait times or callers having to call back multiple times.
The report said this creates a higher risk of abused and neglected children not getting the help they need in time.
From 2013-2017, the number of reports made to the Hotline Unit increased by around 4,500 calls each year.
The audit found over the same time period, wait times tripled from just under one and a half minutes to over 4 minutes.
According to a Galloway's office, the Missouri Department of Social Services, which administered the Hotline Unit, has made efforts to improve the wait times by creating an online reporting system for non-emergencies and increasing staff numbers. Galloway said those steps have helped, and should be continued.
Galloway's audit also highlighted measurable performance goals or expectations developed for the Hotline Unit.
The hotline received more than 138,000 reports of child abuse and neglect last year, according to the release.