More people are reporting child abuse and neglect than ever before, with referrals spiking 76-percent in recent years. That’s according to a newly-released study addressing Pennsylvania’s child welfare system.
The report was put together by a Harrisburg-based non-profit called ‘Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children’. PPC’s mission is to improve the health, education, and well-being of kids in the Keystone State.
The Children’s Advocacy Center of Monroe County works with kids who are victims of physical or sexual abuse. Director Curtis Rogers says it’s critical for people to report child abuse and neglect.
He says, “the phrase ‘if you see something, say something’ really does apply here too.”
The 2019 State of Child Welfare report found that child abuse referrals are at an all-time high for two reasons; there’s more public awareness about child abuse and positive improvements in the mandated reporter requirements.
“We need those tips. We need concerned people to be the eyes and ears for the kids out there who can’t always help themselves,” Rogers explains.
The report also shows the rate of children entering out-of-home care has continued to rise. Many are being placed in foster homes, in spite of trying to place them with kin.
“The first place we look is for a qualified relative or kin person; very close friend, godparent,” explains Adelaide Grace, administrator, Monroe County Children and Youth Services.
The Child Welfare report says, because of an increase in referrals, there’s an increased need for services. The study also addresses the importance of preserving families and making sure children are placed with kin whenever possible. “And they will thrive better in a family setting,” Grace remarks.
Rogers says child abuse has always existed, but it’s no longer being ‘swept under the rug’.
He adds, “there’s hopefully now less stigma associated with it, and there are now people willing to step up and make sure that our kids are safe and supported.”
The report examined the child welfare system over a 5-year period, and this is PPC’s tenth report. Its release is also timely because April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
You can anonymously report suspected child abuse and neglect by contacting ChildLine at 1-800-4-A-CHILD