Deaths from child abuse on the rise in Illinois

A new report shows the number of Illinois children killed by abuse or neglect over the past year will likely be the highest in a quarter century.

Over the past year, 94 of the 223 deaths investigated by the Department of Children and Family Services showed evidence of abuse or neglect, and 45 more are still being investigated.

Local childcare providers say spotting abuse is a rare occurrence, but they are constantly on the lookout for warning signs like changes in kids’ appetites or behavior.

At P & J Tender Care in Moline, each day starts with a head-to-toe check for new bumps and bruises, and teachers then ask the children or parent what happened.

“We record that in what we call an incident book. Two people witness that, and then, if we see it reoccurring, over and over again, that’s usually a red flag for us,” said owner Paquita Richardson.

The report also showed a 14 percent jump in the total number of child deaths investigated by DCFS. Richardson says the key to prevention is keeping home stress levels down and educating parents on ways to cope.

“Ask for help. Sometimes parents are struggling, and they’re having a difficult time at home, and they need to have support, inside and outside the home,” said Richardson.

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