LANSING (WWJ) – A new call-in system for reporting abuse and neglect debuts today in Michigan.

The new round-the-clock, toll-free hotline is part of a court-ordered mandate for the state to help improve conditions for children needing protective services. Calls previously went to county-level offices.

Steve Yager, deputy director of Children’s Services for the Department of Human Services, says the centralized system will offer more consistency for handling complaints.

“With 83 different counties conducting independent complaint intakes there’s opportunity for great variety. So having this all under one roof where we can insure quality and consistency, we’ll make sure that citizens from Marquette to Monroe, from The Soo to St. Joe receive the same high quality services,” says Yager.

And Yager says decisions on whether to investigate a child abuse case will be made on the spot.

“This will insure timely, consistent and high quality services for our citizens as they call in to report abuse and neglect,” he says.

The information citizens give will be confidential, but Yager says callers will be asked a series of questions as reports will be forwarded to the appropriate office quickly.

“And if there’s an immediate concern, within one hour, that information will be forwarded to our local office, it doesn’t matter where. And our protective services intake staff will respond to that complaint,” says Yager.

He adds that it’s important citizens make use of the new system and call if there is any suspicion of abuse.

“If someone has even a suspicion of abuse and neglect, then it’s their responsibility to call that in to us to let us know. There’s no wrong call.”

The phone number for reporting abuse and neglect is 1-855-444-3911.

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