LAS VEGAS -- Nevada is higher than the national average for child abuse deaths. Nineteen kids died from maltreatment in 2011 whereas 15 children died the previous year.
Nevada now ranks ninth highest in the country. Advocates say changes must be made that include more resources and training for Child Protective Services.
Last month, 7-year-old Roderick "RJ" Arrington Jr. went to school after being beaten with a belt. Someone from the school district called Child Protective Services but the agency never confirmed if anyone came to investigate.
According to investigators, when RJ went home he was shaken by his stepfather which resulted in the boy's death.
"We need to keep reminding ourselves that these are live people and not numbers. It's not a spreadsheet," child advocate Donna Coleman said.
A new report, Child Maltreatment 2011, was released from the Department of Health and Human Services. It shows Nevada caseworkers are swamped with 93 cases per worker. That's far higher than the national average where caseworkers are responsible for about 70 cases.
"Really what that's resulting in is not enough time for the caseworkers to do the investigations they need to do," said Denise Tanata Ashby with Children's Advocacy Alliance.
Nineteen Nevada children died because of abuse in 2011. The report details a decrease in neglect but an increase in physical abuse cases. In many cases, such as RJ's, there is no prior record of abuse on file with CPS.
"If the agency isn't aware that there is a problem going on in the home, then they can't take any preventative action," Ashby said.
A human services report dated October of this year says protective services has not met performance for "timeliness of investigations." The agency faces penalties of nearly $900,000 for that and other performance problems. Advocates say more training for CPS workers is needed as well as system reform. CPS is being encouraged to look at other states for best practices.
8 News NOW is following RJ's case and has learned the county is doing a total review of the case. 8 News NOW has requested the transcripts of the hotline intake phone call. At this time, the county is not releasing any information on that case.
Nevada is higher than the national average for child abuse deaths. Nineteen kids died from maltreatment in 2011 whereas 15 children died the previous year. More>>