State lawmakers are debating how to step up the battle against child abuse. A statewide “call center” is one idea proposed, and last session lawmakers approved a quarter-million dollars to study the center. Now with state revenues declining the idea may be in jeopardy, and State Senator Johnnie Hammond of Ames is one who says the money might be better used for filling gaps in the system. She says one of the most serious ones is the shortage of workers and supervisors in the field, and we didn’t do that. Hammond says beefing up training for caseworkers may be a better use for the state’s limited money. Child-Protection Bureau Chief Vern Armstrong agrees.Republican representative Dan Boddicker of Tipton says he still thinks a centralized call center would improve handling of suspected child-abuse cases. He says better-trained people will take calls, and know whether a case needs emergency handling or should be investigated at all. In the meantime, Boddicker says the 250-thousand dollars could go to hire workers who’ll answer phones 24 hours a day at the Department of Human Services.
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