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Governor Kristi Noem has proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention Month to help bring an end to abuse and neglect in South Dakota. The Department of Social Services (DSS) is asking everyone to be vigilant in watching for signs of a problem.

DSS Secretary Lauri Gill said, “The Department of Social Services is focused on protecting children and strengthening families. Ending child abuse and neglect takes the teamwork of families, friends, neighbors, child welfare professionals, schools, medical facilities, community and faith-based organizations, businesses, law enforcement, and the public.”

In state fiscal year 2020, DSS’ Division of Child Protection Services received more than 14,500 reports of child abuse and neglect. When it is determined that children cannot safely remain in their home, they are placed in foster care. In SFY20, 1,191 children entered fostered care and 333 received in-home child protection services.

“DSS wants to help parents learn healthy ways to cope with the stress, mental health and substance use issues and other factors that can lead to child abuse and neglect,” Gill said. “We can end child abuse and neglect in South Dakota. It starts with awareness of the resources that are available.”

To report child abuse or neglect, please call 1.877.244.0864. Intake Specialists are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. If reporting an emergency situation outside of normal business hours or on the weekend or holidays, please contact local law enforcement.