Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Fathers driving increase in state child abuse numbers (Pennsylvania)

According to the DPW, the highest number of perpetrators of child abuse are the victim’s father...


Child abuse numbers up across state

Posted: Friday, June 13, 2014 8:20 pm | Updated: 8:25 pm, Fri Jun 13, 2014.

The number of child abuse reports are up across the state, with 33 of the state’s 67 counties receiving more reports of suspected abuse in 2013 than the prior year.

Dan Wertz, McKean County Children and Youth Services director, said in the past three years, there’s been an 18.5 percent increase in child abuse reports in the county. The increase doesn’t necessarily correlate to a rise in abuse, but instead to greater awareness and education for mandated reporters, he explained.

Yet each report is investigated. And rising numbers of reports are taxing to already strained budgets. “As additional reports come in, that places more stress on the system.

As we identify more families, that’s (the same number of) staff spread across a larger number of families needing assistance,” Wertz said. He added the state has to recognize CYS funding as a priority to “assist with the additional demands that are coming in.”

This annual report issued by the Department of Public Welfare serves as a tool for county agencies. He explained, “This reporting process was designed so that it gives us the ability to assess how we responded and what we did under those circumstances, to apply any lessons we learned, and to assist us with improving our overall responsibilities for child abuse of any sort.”

The data is helpful, too, in preparing a needs-based budget estimate for Fiscal Year 2015-16, he said.

Wertz explained that several changes are underway in child welfare laws at the end of this year. “We are encouraged by the state overhauling the child protective services law to improve overall child abuse response,” he said.

Regarding the data presented in the DPW report, Wertz said some of McKean County’s trends are mirroring the state’s. According to the DPW, the highest number of perpetrators of child abuse are the victim’s father, followed by the mother, other family member, the “paramour” of a parent of the victim, a baby sitter or person responsible for the welfare of a child, and other household members.

“That would be consistent with what we’re encountering here as well,” Wertz said.

The DPW report indicated the total expenditures in McKean County for child abuse investigations in the fiscal year 2012-13 was $117,047.

During the calendar year 2013, McKean County CYS completed 102 investigations within 30 days, and 88 within 60 days. No reports lapsed past the 60 days, according to the DPW data.