CPS investigations often begin with a telephone call from someone accusing a parent of abusing or neglecting a child.
The allegations pour in at about 25 a day to Spokane’s child welfare offices at Washington and Maxwell.
Pat Miller, who supervises the hot line, said many of the calls are groundless vendettas from “parents out to get each other.”
“At least 50 percent of the cases we investigate are unfounded,” she said.
For every 100 complaints, about 30 are quickly dismissed, say CPS officials. Only about seven spawn investigations that result in the removal of a child from a home. In half of those cases, the children are returned to their parents within 45 days.
Hot line complaints are confidential, but CPS officials allowed The Spokesman-Review to review a day’s worth of calls as long as the names remained anonymous.
Here are the significant allegations received on a single day earlier this year.
A stepfather sat on a 10-year-old until she could not breath. Then he threw a toy truck at the girl’s younger sister.
A 4-year-old boy told a counselor that his dad “did sex to me.” The child was already in foster care at the time of the statement.
An anonymous woman claims she saw a father grab his 14-year-old boy and throw him against a wall. The 14-year-old is left alone often with his three younger brothers whom the teenager routinely beats.
A 3-year-old is given a shot of whiskey in his pop and locked upstairs while his mom and her boyfriend smoke marijuana.
A caller describes a household in which a 4-year-old girl lives in danger of a hostile pit bull that already mauled her once.
The day after a child was born, the mother tested positive for cocaine. The mom admitted to using cocaine the day before the birth. The baby is five weeks premature. The mother is homeless and mentally ill.
A 1-year-old child had a fractured leg. A doctor is concerned about how it happened.
A mother is not feeding her 9-month-old girl. She only fed the child solids two times in the last three weeks. There is no food in the house and the mother is always yelling and hitting the child.
Five kids, as young as 20 months, live in a home where the father uses and sells drugs. The father has stated he will kill them all. There is a steady stream of people in and out of the house.
Three children, ages 3 to 9, live in a house that “smells like rotten pee.” There is dog excrement in the basement and the kids’ beds are soaked with urine.
A 5-year-old came to school with a black eye and another bruise. The child has learning disabilities and said her mother punched her.
Other calls, deemed informational only and not shared with CPS investigators, included a 10-year-old girl recalling a babysitter who tried to molest her and another caller alleging that a mother takes her baby with her when she goes to crack houses.