Child abuse hotline callers must leave messages

CHICAGO (AP) -- A newspaper's investigation has found that most callers to the Illinois child abuse hotline don't reach a welfare specialist on their first try.

The Chicago Tribune reports in its Sunday editions that the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services took messages for more than 60 percent of those calls. The newspaper report says a delayed response can endanger children.

The Tribune analyzed hotline calls over an 11-year period. In 2001, nearly 70 percent of hotline callers got a specialist on the first try. Today, it's less than 40 percent.

Department spokesman Kendall Marlowe tells the newspaper that the hotline needs to be properly staffed to avoid messages.

State law requires the department to operate the hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


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