State Capitol Week in Review – June 25, 2022

LITTLE ROCK – When people call the state hotline to report suspected child abuse or neglect, about 80 percent are assigned to the Division of Children and Family Services.


The other 20 percent are considered more serious, and are assigned to the State Police, which has a Division of Crimes Against Children.


The Division presented a report to the Senate Committee on Children and Youth about the most recent quarter. A total of 7,808 reports were received during the three-month period. Of those 1,531 were assigned to the State Police and 6,277 to the Division of Children and Family Services.


Of the reports assigned to DCFS, 24 percent were found to be true. Of those assigned to the State Police, 33 percent were found to be true.


The investigations concluded that 2,215 children were victims of substantiated allegations of maltreatment. Of those, 55 percent were girls.


The most common type of maltreatment was neglect. Investigators found that 70 percent of the substantiated cases reported to the hotline involved children who had been neglected. That is 1,549 children.


The second most common form of maltreatment was physical abuse; 20 percent of the substantiated cases, involving 445 children, were for physical abuse.


Investigators found 408 children who had been victims of sexual abuse. That was 18 percent of the substantiated cases. Of the remaining cases, 23 children were abandoned and 21 children were victims of sexual exploitation.


An individual child may have been the victim of more than one type of abuse or neglect. During the three-month period, investigators substantiated that four children were killed and another four children were nearly killed. One allegation of a child fatality that was reported to the hotline was determined to be unsubstantiated.


Of the cases that came through the hotline, the Division of Children and Family Services determined that 1,163 merited a differential response, which is an alternative to a criminal investigation. The most common findings in those cases were of environmental neglect. In 36 percent of the cases the child’s home lacked basic cleanliness and hygiene.


The second most common finding, in 30 percent of the cases, the child was inadequately supervised. The third most frequent finding, in 20 percent of cases, the child’s education was neglected. Fourth in frequency was that the child was not given enough to eat. Inadequate food was a reason for a differential response in 13 percent of the cases.


In six percent of the cases, the child lacked shelter. In five percent the child had been locked out of his or her home. In four percent the child was not provided medical attention. Also in four percent of cases, the child lacked sufficient clothing.


The Division opens a protective services case, or a supportive services case, when it substantiates an allegation of abuse or neglect. During the most recent quarter, case workers found that eight percent of the children in a protective services case were abused within a year after the case had been opened.


In supported services cases, three percent of the children were neglected or maltreated within the year after the case had opened.


The Division has 428 family services workers. Their average caseload in March was 23.3, which is down from 25.5 last October. The state’s goal is to bring it below 20.