Child abuse reports soar downstate; services tight

By Anna Yee

November 19, 2012 Updated Nov 20, 2012 at 11:44 AM CDT

Canton, Ill. -- The numbers don't lie.

Reports of suspected child abuse or neglect are soaring, according to the latest DCFS report.

From July through October of this year, 25,348 calls were made to Illinois' Child Abuse Hotline, which is up 24,053 reports this time last year.

Stats show dozens of downstate counties' abuse and neglect rates more than double the statewide average this year, with some of the highest numbers falling under Fulton, Mason, and Logan counties.

That's no surprise to those working at Fulton-Mason Crisis Service in Canton.

Phyllis Todd, the Assistant Director at Fulton-Mason Crisis Service, says clients have been on the increase for years.

"It is heartbreaking some of the stories, real lives, that people share," said Todd. "Here in Fulton County several years ago, we had 2 children deaths due to violence in their families."

And more people are calling for help than ever.

"We are busy 24/7," said Martha Daly, the Executive Director at Fulton-Mason Crisis Service.

Daly says that's due in part to the lack of professional care, as parents work longer hours.

"Definitely some kind of daycare on the weekends and evenings that would be available to the clients at an affordable cost," said Daly, "so that we know the children are safe and they know the children are safe, and they don't have to depend on relatives or friends that are already overwhelmed with their own needs."

And getting the help needed is always a phone call away.

The Fulton-Mason Crisis Service offers free help to victims 24 hours a day, seven days a week to get you in touch with the right services.

But currently, the closest crisis daycare center is located in Peoria.

If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected wherever you are, you can call the state child abuse hotline at 1-800-25-ABUSE.

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