Missouri family questions state's child abuse hotline after reporting allegations

A Missouri family questions what really happens when people call the state's child abuse hotline for help. (KCTV5)

A Missouri family questions what really happens when people call the state's child abuse hotline for help.

They reported allegations of abuse and are stunned at the lack of response and investigation. The family says they’ve made repeated calls to the hotline, the social worker assigned and even the county supervisor. More than a month has passed and there has been no investigation.

“You just can’t imagine. Day after day you are going really? They still haven’t called us. I don’t know how to explain it. I feel like I’m living in the twilight zone,” said the child’s grandmother.

The family says when that hotline failed to investigate they turned to police but learned that was no longer an option.

“We’ve contacted two police stations and they can’t do anything if DFS is involved. If you contact the police before you contact DFS they can make a report but if you contact DFS then they can’t do anything and their hands are tied so that’s unbelievably frustrating,” said the boy’s father.

The family says they considered taking the boy to a doctor or counselor hoping a mandated reporter could help but those people report to the hotline, too.

“Everyone reports to that hotline we are all at the mercy of the hotline,” said the grandmother. “So, I made a report to the hotline to report children services. Because this is child abuse and neglect they are neglecting this child!”

The family says they badgered that hotline. After two weeks, a social services worker met the family in a parking lot to determine if the child was in immediate danger. But that person told the family they weren’t a social worker or investigator. Someone else would follow up. But that never happened and a full month has rolled by.

Missouri Social Services own annual report says "Investigations/assessments must be initiated within 24 hours, or immediately when it is determined that the child is in imminent danger."

KCTV5 News contacted Missouri Social Services which runs the hotline. They say their records show they respond to hotline calls within that 24-hour period about 80 percent of the time.

The department spokesperson offered no explanation for what happened in this case, citing privacy. KCTV5 News verified documents and phone records from the family. We are protecting the child and family’s identity because the alleged abuser does not appear to be under any investigation or caution. The family is concerned about retaliation.

“Why say anything to anybody because you are going to bring on more abuse,” the boy’s father said.

“Do we have to draw a picture here? When we can’t count on authorities to take care of things this kind of situation what will people do?” questions the grandmother.

The family says they are running out of options. They have violated court orders to return the child and are trying to get a protection order through adult court because the system set up for children is failing. However, the family says the court hearing has now been delayed because the court can’t track down the person in question.

“I know there could be repercussions on me in the long run but my child’s safety is more important to me than what they could do to me,” the father said.

“We are wanting to abide by rules and go with the system. But the system has failed that’s the bottom line it has failed. My grandchild could be dead if it was left to them," the grandmother said.

Copyright 2018 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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