Callers Experience Long Waits On OKDHS Abuse Hotline

Tuesday, July 29th 2014, 6:32 pm
By: News 9

If you or a loved one had to call the Oklahoma Department of Human Services’ hotline for abuse and neglect, the truth is, you might not get through.

Some News 9 viewers expressed concerns with 30-minute wait times they experienced on Monday. An automated message on the statewide Abuse and Neglect Hotline asks callers to choose the type of abuse they wish to report. After making a selection, the time it takes for human interaction can vary.

DHS staff takes calls at the Hotline Center in Oklahoma City, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, asking questions to quickly get to the heart of the matter. Still, getting there will require some patience.

"We are certainly aware there are times when people try to call the abuse hotline and they experience some long wait times," said Sheree Powell, DHS Communications Director for OKDHS.

OKDHS claims call volume is higher than ever. Nearly 100,000 abuse and neglect reports were made to the hotline just last year.

Powell explained that the phones are ringing at a pace this year that will likely surpass last year's record. So, DHS is implementing new methods to reduce wait times.

"If they are waiting more than 10 minutes we will have someone check in with them and ask them what the nature of their call is and see if we can possibly call back at a later time," Powell explained.

On average, an operator will spend 25 minutes with a caller, gathering critical information needed to investigate the claims of abuse. OKDHS suggested that callers avoid high volumes times, Mondays and Friday, and if possible, report on nights and weekends.

Low staffing at the center is also contributing to long wait times. Currently, the agency is looking to fill approximately 30 positions at the hotline center.

"We do understand people get frustrated when they call and we want to get to that call as quick as we can," said Powell, pointing out the hotline is not for emergency situations.

If a child is in immediate danger, 911 is always the best option. To report Abuse or Neglect : 1 (800) 522-3511

Learn how you can apply for an available position at DHS hotline center.