Kings County officials notice a spike in child abuse cases

KINGS COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Kings County Department of Human Services started noticing a disturbing trend. The child abuse cases in the county are jumping.

Peggy Montgomery said, "Our case load in 2011 was at 346 child welfare cases."

Now the amount of cases has nearly doubled to 640 cases just a few years later. The department says it's because of assembly bill 109 which became law in 2011. The law changed prison sentences - placing lower level criminals into the county jails and probation systems instead of state prisons. The goal is to prevent overcrowding at the state level. But in Kings County - Human Services said it's putting more kids at risk.

Montgomery said, "We did a correlation between our child welfare cases and to compare with AB109 in probation and sure enough it was matched."

Human services presented their findings to the Kings County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

Supervisor Doug Verboon said, "AB109 we were against it from the beginning we had to make it work."

Verboon said they're working to build more jail space so less convicted criminals are serving supervised probation and living where kids are present. But they're also hoping to do more for human services. The agency needs to add four more case workers to their staff and a supervisor. That's something they'll be asking the board to pay for.

Verboon said, "We want to make sure we find them enough money to keep the program going and stay strong and give them the support they need."

Verboon said he also wants programs in place to prevent victims from later turning into abusers.

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