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Understaffing May Have Contributed to Lost Voicemails at Child Protection Agency

The Child Protective Services office that serves Augusta County, including Staunton and Waynesboro, is under scrutiny in recent days for deleting hundreds of voicemails in its system.  (Note: this story has been updated with a statement from the Shenandoah Valley Social Services office in Verona, released after this interview aired on WMRA.  See below.)

Laura Peters of the News Leader in Staunton broke the story last week, and Bob Leweke asked her how so many messages, some of which might have involved children at risk, could have been discarded.*

*Anita Harris of Shenandoah Valley Social Services in Verona released this statement on Wednesday, May 20, after WMRA's interview with reporter Laura Peters aired:

"As recent media reports have detailed, more than 200 unheard voice mail messages were erroneously deleted from the Shenandoah Valley Social Services (SVSS) Child Protective Services (CPS) intake line last year.  As a department, we acknowledge to the public we serve that this was a mistake – one that we sincerely regret.  Changes were made to CPS protocols in the fall of 2014, to ensure that it is not repeated.

In an effort to be certain that all of those in need of services from SVSS receive them, SVSS requests that prior callers to the department call again if they:

  1. called SVSS to make a report of child abuse or neglect between April 18, 2014 and October 29, 2014,
  2. were transferred to the agency’s CPS intake line,
  3. left a voice mail message on the CPS intake line, and
  4. are concerned that SVSS did not receive the information contained in their voice mail message.

Calls should be directed to SVSS’s assistant director, Anita Harris, at (540) 245-5810.  Every effort will be made to respond to each caller as promptly as possible.

If you have a child protection case in Augusta County that may have gone unheard, you should call the statewide hotline at 800-552-7096."

Find all of the News Leader's reporting on this story here.

Bob Leweke is WMRA's News Director and Morning Edition host.