Los Angeles County is starting an electronic system for sharing information on suspected child abuse among social workers, police agencies, and prosecutors, a move it hopes will reduce the number of abused or neglected children whose cases fall between the cracks, reports the Los Angeles Times.
District Attorney Steve Cooley called the Web-based Electronic Suspected Child Abuse Report System a “giant leap forward” and said it is the first of its kind in the nation.
About 28,000 reports have been entered into the system so far. California law requires that child welfare agencies and law enforcement cross-report any allegations of child abuse so a criminal investigation can be launched at the same time that social workers are looking after the child’s welfare. Previously, the cross-reporting between agencies relied on a patchwork system via fax or mail that led to reports being lost in the shuffle or being sent to the wrong agency, causing errors and delayed police response. In some cases, charges were dismissed or lesser charges were filed against alleged abusers because of missing information. Under the old system, it was hard for social workers to find out whether criminal charges were ever filed against a child’s alleged abuser or to keep track of the court case.