Improvements to state child abuse hotline

HARRISBURG, Pa.-- The Department of Human Services said on Thursday that they've improved the state child abuse hotline, ChildLine.

"I can announce today that we are performing better than ever," Department of Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas said. "100 percent of the clearances are done timely and instead of 26 days, they are getting done in 1.6 days on average."

He said all 100 percent are done on time. State laws require that the clearances be done with in 14 days. He said the improvements are timely.

"Reports of child abuse always go up in September as children return to school," he said. "There are mandated reporters in teachers, and other people see these kids and the reports go up."

This comes after a disturbing report by State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale. It said 42,000 calls went unanswered in 2015.

"Whenever you introduce a big change into the system like there was in December of 2014 or whenever the law went into effect it always takes time for the system to respond," Dallas said. "I think right now, you've seen ChildLine is where it needs to be."

According to the Department of Human Services, the amount of calls that are abandoned or deflected is down to about two percent. It was at 43% in DePasquale's report. Dallas said technology has helped.

"Driving the number for the electronic submissions up to 80% has in turn freed up call takers and make sure we get our call rate down," he said.

Additional help came with more staff.

"So the last group of folks we needed to hire, we were able to hire with the passage of the budget," Dallas said.

He said he wants continued work with the counties to make sure children are kept safe.