LIMA — Despite $1.7 million in cutbacks since 2007, Allen County Children Services has been able to handle an increasing number of child abuse and neglect reports, according to a 2012 Annual Report released Wednesday.
Children Services Executive Director Scott Ferris said the agency continually has been effective in its work thanks to experienced, dedicated employees. The average social worker has more than seven years of child protective service experience.
From 2009 to 2012, child abuse and neglect reports rose 61 percent. In 2009, a total 1,793 children were reported. In 2012, that number increased to 2,227.
“We knew when the economy was starting to falter, people were starting to lose jobs, we knew to expect an increase,” Ferris said. “We didn’t know how much, but an increase was coming. So as we had openings developing in the agencies, that had reduced funding; we had been able to restructure accordingly so that we didn’t see any decrease in front-level program staff.”
In 2009, 33 percent of the families Children Services saw were there for the first time, a vast increase from the rates before the recession hit. Also, 15 adoptions were finalized in 2012, almost doubling the eight adoptions finalized by Children Services in 2011.
Ferris said while the cuts were difficult, employees still adeptly handled the increased workload.
Other programs of note
• The new adoption social workers funded through the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption: Ferris said because the program recently started, there would be more information about its success in next year’s annual report.
• Expanding the Relative of Kin program: Ferris said Children Services is seeing a huge increase in the number of relatives who aren’t the parents caring for children.
• April is Child Abuse Prevention Month: Children Services is hosting a number of events throughout the month to bring awareness to child abuse.