Child abuse hotline callers must leave messages

CHICAGO (AP) - A newspaper's investigation has found that most callers to the Illinois child abuse hotline don't reach a welfare specialist on their first try.

The Chicago Tribune reports in its Sunday editions that the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services took messages for more than 60% of those calls. The newspaper report says a delayed response can endanger children.

The Tribune analyzed hotline calls over an 11-year period. In 2001, nearly 70% of hotline callers got a specialist on the first try. Today, it's less than 40%.

Department spokesman Kendall Marlowe tells the newspaper that the hotline needs to be properly staffed to avoid messages.

State law requires the department to operate the hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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