North Dakota Child Protective Services Reports Increase in Child Abuse Calls and Decrease in Victims in 2021


BISMARCK, ND (KFYR) — It has been nearly four weeks since three adults, Rolanda Doyle, Russel James and Serenity Foots, were arrested in Bismarck for child abuse and neglect after the death of a child in their care. While Child Protective Services cannot comment on this specific case, Your News Leader has reached out to CPS officials to learn more about what is being done to protect children in North Dakota.

16,907 reports of child abuse were reported in 2021 and 1,349 children were victims of abuse or neglect. The number of reports increased, but the number of child victims decreased in 2021, according to the FFY 2021 NCANDS report.

CPS officials say reports may be on the rise because people are more vigilant about reporting abuse and because North Dakota moved to a centralized reporting line in January 2021.

“After they get the report, they go out and we use what’s called a security framework practice model. It is a proven approach that uses standardized tools and decision-making criteria so that we can make informed decisions about child safety and use intervention strategies with families and children only to helping parents make positive changes,” said Kirsten Hansen, Prevention and Protection Administrator for Child and Family Services.

The most recent data available on child deaths due to neglect or abuse in North Dakota is from 2015-2016. North Dakota social services officials say reviews of child deaths and child abuse deaths for 2017 have not yet been completed because the panel cannot write a report until the cases are closed. .

From 2015 to 2016, seven children, aged two months to nine years, died of abuse or neglect. Two of these cases had previous reports of child abuse in the home. During this time, nine children, ranging from birth to age two, nearly died from abuse or neglect. Five of these cases had previous reports of child abuse in the home.

81% of child deaths reviewed by the North Dakota Child Fatality Review Panel were deemed “preventable.” They say every citizen can play a role in reducing child deaths.

“There are signs of possible abuse that people can notice and will file a report. This can include bruises, welts, burns, broken bones, any other unexplained or even suspicious injury. There are also those situations of neglect where young children are unsupervised. There may be children who seem malnourished. Maybe environmental concerns,” Hansen said.

The review panel is concerned about the quality of child death scene investigations. They state, “Many child death investigations do not include interviews with parents and others who live in the home or were present in the home at the time of death.”

The CPS has not published information on staff workload.

The state’s attorney’s office has yet to respond to Your News Leader’s request for comment on recent child abuse allegations against Doyle, James and Foots.

If you suspect child abuse or neglect, call the statewide toll-free reporting line at 1-833-958-3500.

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