Office of Children's Services centralizes system in hopes of improving responsiveness
The Office of Children's Services unveiled a centralized intake system on Wednesday to make it easier to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect.
OCS is also working to increase its staff levels to meet a growing number of reports.
Last year, OCS received more than 18,000 reports, which resulted in more than 8,000 children and families being identified for assessments.
To improve the way it handles reports, OCS is trying to make it simpler by having one number to call instead of numbers for five different regions in the state.
OCS now has one reporting e-mail address and has expanded its hours to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. with the hopes of eventually providing service 24/7.
Centralized intake manager for OCS Lindsay Both said the increased reports are in part due to the opioid epidemic, better documentation and possibly community members feeling more comfortable reporting.
Bothe said OCS will be gaining 31 new positions this year to better address some of the need.
"Caseloads in the entire state are higher than the national average so the more specialists that we can have working them the lower the caseloads for everybody and will be able to keep up with them better," Bothe said.
Anyone wanting to report possible child neglect or abuse can call 1-800-478-4444 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.