ISSUE | CHILD ABUSE

Hotline needs funds to protect victims

In a recent audit conducted by the Pennsylvania Auditor General's Office, it was found that nearly 42,000 calls to the state child-abuse hotline were dropped or left unanswered. While it's easy to blame the call center for this failure, insufficient funding and staffing and unacceptable working conditions are responsible. This lack of funding threatens the hotline's ability to retain staff members, threatening the progress made in the reporting of child abuse since the Jerry Sandusky case.

The work of child advocacy centers, including Mission Kids in Montgomery County, hinges on calls being answered and appropriate referrals being made. Even with the number of dropped calls, child advocacy centers across the state saw an increase of up to

40 percent in reports of suspected abuse last year.

Pennsylvania has the potential to become a model for the nation - we just need to take the final steps to get the framework we've developed running as effectively as possible. We ask that you contact your representatives in Harrisburg and request adequate funding so all children can be provided with support swiftly, effectively, and without hesitation.

|Abbie Newman, executive director/chief executive officer, Mission Kids, Child Advocacy Center of Montgomery County, East Norriton