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Kansas City has thousands of open child abuse and neglect cases and too few investigators

Two women sit in a radio studio. The woman on the left is talking and gesturing with both hands.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Rep. Keri Ingle, left, talks on KCUR's Up To Date with Lisa Mizell about the backlog of child abuse cases in Missouri.

As of August, Kansas City had 3,636 open investigations into child abuse and neglect. Across the state, there are more than 10,000 cases that have been open more than 45 days after being reported. Missouri officials acknowledge the problem and that fixing it isn't easy.

A high stress job with low pay has contributed to a shortage of cases workers and a backlog of more than10,000 open abuse and neglect investigations in Missouri's Children's Division, a new investigation by the NPR Midwest Newsroom found.

Missouri state Rep. Keri Ingle, a former case worker, said there have been committee discussions to raise the pay.

"My fear is that the legislature tends to be very reactionary," Ingle said. "I hope, I really truly hope it doesn't take a tragic occurrence, something really, really tragic happening for them to realize how important it is to pay investigators what they're worth.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
As a producer for Up To Date, my goal is to inform our audience by curating interesting and important conversations with reliable sources and individuals directly affected by a topic or issue. I strive for our program to be a place that hosts impactful conversations, providing our audience with greater knowledge, intrigue, compassion and entertainment. Contact me at elizabeth@kcur.org or on Twitter at @er_bentley_ruiz.
Trevor Grandin is a contributing producer for KCUR Studios.
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