Child Protective Services reports stable numbers - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Child Protective Services reports stable numbers

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 by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - It's made headline news these last few months. More parents arrested and charged with child abuse, neglect, and all sorts. But what do officials at Child Protective Services have to say?

We've heard it all - a mom and dad accused of locking children inside the home with little to no food, a mother accused of beating her children with every day household items, and even a couple accused of leaving their infant in a parked car just outside their house. But despite these high profile cases, Child Protective Services confirms they are rare. In fact, the number of referrals to the agency aren't on the rise either.

On average, CPS receives 100 referrals a month.

According to Department of Public and Social Services human services administrator Linda Rodriguez, this number isn't alarming - it's stable when compared to years prior. In Fiscal Year 2014, close to 500 of the year's referrals were for physical abuse. Coming second at close to 400 was emotional abuse, and third with close to 300 was neglect and lack of adult supervision.

Come summer months, Rodriguez says these numbers typically decline. This is because most referrals are made by Department of Education officials who suspect there may be foul play or neglect at the homefront.

"Child abuse and neglect referrals. That could be anything like physical abuse where you see physical injuries on the child. The bruises. Cigarette burns. Cuts. Then there's sexual abuse. Then there's neglect issues where the children's basic needs aren't being met," Rodriguez explained.

And while it's poor parenting that often results in CPS stepping in, Rodriguez says they aren't in the business of breaking up homes, noting, "Our goal is to always reunify children with their families. We're not out there to take children away. We're here to protect children and if there's a problem in the household and the parents can't take care of the kids, and we have to step in and intervene our goal is always to return the children to their parents."

But while children are separated from their families, there's a shortage of foster families to care for them. Rodridguez says there's only 27 licensed foster homes on Guam and roughly 144 children under foster care. "Whenever we can't place in a licensed foster home, we try to place children with relatives. Actually that's our first option when we do remove children. We like to place them with relatives like an aunt or a grandmother or an uncle because its less traumatic for the children," she said.

Whether you're interested in becoming a foster parent or suspect a child may be abused or neglected, you can reach CPS at 475-2653/72.
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