FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Doctors at Valley Children’s Hospital are seeing an increase in the number of children coming into the hospital for child abuse.
Despite several high-profile child death cases in the Central Valley this year, Child Protective Services says they are seeing numbers that are consistent with prior years.
More calls are coming in for caseworkers to investigate or look into suspected abuse. However, actual cases that are substantiated remains the same.
More than ever before, the public and concerned citizens are calling in with tips and concerns about suspected child abuse, according to the Deputy Director of Child Welfare in Fresno County.
“We’re seeing more calls coming in, and I think part of it is the type of reporting that we’re doing and just the community awareness,” Tricia Gonzalez said. “We have an amazing community that cares about kids.”
Nowadays it’s more than mandated reporters at schools or daycares to pick up the phone. It’s neighbors, family members and others who are asking for inquiries.
Even though abuse isn’t always detected. This year, doctors have treated more abused kids than last at Valley Children’s hospital. Cases are slightly up for 2017, according to Dr. Philip Hyden who oversees the child abuse prevention and treatment center.
Many of the concerning cases for social workers in hospitals and child welfare workers are related to substance abuse.
“Our biggest challenge is methamphetamine,” he said. “That continues to be a big factor in our cases. We are also seeing mental health concerns.”
Neglect is the number one problem seen by local CPS social workers. Valley Children’s hospital doctors classify many of these cases as “failure to thrive.”
But some tragic and severe cases of physical abuse have recently ended in death. Two children were killed as a result of suspected child abuse in Fresno County and Tulare County. In Merced County last week, a five-year-old was rushed to the hospital with a brain bleed. Both parents were arrested for assaulting the child.
The report numbers are staggering about 50,000 calls are made alone to the Fresno County CPS office each year. Of those, 9,000 are investigated.
Fresno Police officers and Fresno County deputies also reported similar caseloads from last year to this year. In addition, Merced County and Tulare County also provided statistics that reflect no significant child abuse trend.