WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WIFR) – Several local foster homes are struggling to take in more kids, that’s because the number of child abuse and neglect in Winnebago County has increased by more than 100 in the last year.
“The children interpret that them coming into foster care is their fault, they did something wrong in order to be taken from their parent.”
Melissa Johnson says she’s never had so many children who have been victims of abuse or neglect come through her office at Lutheran social services. It’s becoming an overwhelming issue for several other local agencies in Winnebago County.
According to the county courts, there were about 450 reported child abuse and neglect cases in 2012. The courts already have nearly 500 cases so far this year.
“Those are coming fast and furious, we’re on a 600+ pace this year , more than ever.”
Chief Judge Joseph McGraw says that’s left many judges working late nights to finish each child abuse hearing. Now, local agencies are struggling to find foster homes for kids as DCFS investigates each case.
Johnson says she’s not sure why there’s an uptick in reports, however she says something needs to be done to save these kids.
Many agency workers say there are different causes for child abuse, claiming parents could suffer from things like drug abuse, mental illness and domestic violence. Agencies like Lutheran Social Services offers counseling for parents while their child is away.
Since there’s so much backlog with child abuse and neglect cases and so many new ones being reported, it’s taking time to process them. The number of cases is overwhelming for the courts, local agencies, and most importantly, the children because these kids can be in foster care for up to 2 years while DCFS investigates the cases.