I-Team: Former employee for child abuse hotline says there are system flaws

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The I-Team has reported on several specific child abuse cases this year. As with many of these stories, Child Protective Services was involved and the I-Team revealed flaws with these cases.

Now, the I-Team has an exclusive interview with a former employee who says one department at the agency needs to change.

Clark County’s child abuse and neglect hotline is often the first point of contact at the Department of Family Services which could help save a child. Anyone can call in a report.

“I think the whole point of the Department of Family Services is we’re there to protect the permanency, safety and well-being of children and I don’t think it’s happening,” said Kelly Budd, former employee.

Budd is a former employee at the DFS hotline.

She claims the goal was quantity over quality — to take more calls and less information.

“I think a lot of times things fell through the cracks, because you know it got to the point where the people answering the phone were more concerned about well what’s going to happen if I don’t finish this phone call in 20 minutes?”

She also decribes a no call list.

“A list of names where when these people called in reports, we did not, no matter what they were saying, it did not result in a report or investigation,” Budd said. “Sometimes it would be, refer them to a supervisor, other times it would be just make a case note and go onto the next call, and when I got into this line of work, my thinking was we’re here to protect children.”

A spokesman for the county confirmed to the I-Team, there is a list of 11 people and some are frequent callers who complain about issues that do not involve a child being in danger, and some have significant mental health problems. For example, one suffers from hallucinations and complains about children they believe are in their home but are not. While it may sound like the boy who cried wolf, Budd says that may not always be the case.

“So, if this report was legitimate, nobody ever checked on those children,” Budd said.

She says better management is needed.

“They need to rethink their structure of how they’re scheduling people or hire additional call takers. Or maybe a thought, when it’s that backed up, have a supervisor hop on the phone and start taking some calls cause that didn’t happen,” she said.

Budd tells the I-Team she still works in the same field but moved out of state to take another job, in part, she says because she feared the worst.

“I really felt like, at some point, there’s going to be a child that’s going to be injured or hurt because of the practices and I couldn’t, they weren’t doing anything about it and I just, I couldn’t sleep.”

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