Broome County: Child Welfare Cases Rising

By Leigh Dana

February 17, 2011 Updated Feb 17, 2011 at 6:58 PM EST

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) In 2010, there were more than 3,000 cases of child abuse and neglect reported in Broome County.

Following the discovery of an adolescent girl abandoned by her family earlier this week, Action New takes a closer look at why this number is on the rise.

Garbage, feces and mold was found inside the Neel-Path complex in West Endicott, after it was discovered a 12-year-old girl was abandoned by her aunt, Lorraine Kelsh, 40, 2 weeks earlier.

"No child should be left unsupervised for that period of time," said Don Bowersox, Deputy Commissioner for Broome County's Child Protective Services. More than 300 cases of child abuse and neglect are reported every month; ranging from lack of supervision, inadequate guardianship, to substance abuse.

In the last 3 years, Child Protective Services has seen an increase of the number of child abuse and neglect reports called in, following the death of Maine Endwell student, 12-year-old Peter Munck. "Initially we saw about a 40 % increase and after that about a 15% increase annually," said Bowersox.

In the case of the12-year-old girl left alone inside her West Endicott apartment, it was a neighbor who reported it authorities. Child Protective Services says most of the time it's school officials.

A spokesperson for the Union Endicott School District tells Action News school officials are "mandated by law to report any suspicion of child abuse or neglect to Child Protective Services." UE stated no one at the school noticed anything unusual about the girl.

Neither did neighbors, until she spoke up and told one them. "She'd be outside running around with the neighborhood kids. I would come outside and talk to her and see what she was doing. She was playing with kids, not causing any trouble," said neighbor Jason Mucky.

Signs may not always be obvious. But, Child Services urges anyone who notices anything suspicious, even just curious, about child's welfare to report it.

When a guardian loses custody of their child, the child is often placed with either another relative or in foster care. There are about 130 foster families in Broome County. CPS says 60% of the time, the child is adopted.