Disaster Preparedness Prompts DCFS to Upgrade Child Protection Hotline Phone System to Cloud-Based Technology

Amara Suarez
DCFS Office of Public Affairs

In Southern California, October denotes the month during which the Department of Children and
Family Services (DCFS) and other organizations prepare for the Big One.

While earthquake readiness is a necessity to ensure the preservation of life, property and the
environment in the face of a large-scale quake, the region also must prepare for other types of natural
and man-made disasters or, as we’ve recently learned, the possibility of future health pandemics.

To that end, the department has upgraded its analog Child Protection Hotline (CPH) phone system to
Amazon Connect, an Amazon Web Services product. Amazon Connect is a secure, cloud-based
system that streamlines call center functions and allows for the department’s hotline workforce to
take calls remotely. DCFS is the first child well-being agency in the nation to implement Amazon
Connect in this capacity.

“The Child Protection Hotline is where the safety assessment of children begins and it is essential that
it continues to operate after a major earthquake or disaster,” Director Bobby D. Cagle said.

“This upgraded phone system mitigates the impact of what we can expect in the aftermath of a natural
disaster and promises continuity of services to ensure that allegations of child abuse and neglect may
still be reported,” he added.

Last year, the CPH’s received more than 200,000 calls and, in the last 10 years – up until the onset of
the coronavirus pandemic – had experienced an increase of 20 percent in the number of calls.

Before the pandemic, the call center received as many as 21,000 reports of child abuse and neglect
in a month. During peak times, up to 100 staff members would be logged on, taking as many as 120
back-to-back phone calls per hour, each with a duration of up to 20 minutes.

Recognizing the need for a more modern phone system that could accommodate the volume of calls
and would allow personnel to work offsite in the event that the call center needed to be evacuated
or was inaccessible due to structural damage, the department began its exploration into a cloudbased system more than three years ago.

Amazon Connect’s roll out in mid-July coincided with the pandemic-prompted need for staff to work
remotely. The system’s cloud-based infrastructure is available 24-7 and accessible from any location
with internet connection, allowing staff to work from home or other DCFS offices.

In the event of an evacuation, caused by a natural disaster or otherwise, the Amazon cloud-based
system provides an alternate path to the internet. Thereby, providing business continuity for the
hotline’s critical service.

To safeguard against the threat of widespread loss of internet connectivity, the department also will
maintain a phone bank for emergency use.

In a county of 10 million inhabitants, DCFS relies on community members to be attentive and watchful
to ensure children remain safe at home. Mandated reporters may make an electronic child abuse
report at https://mandreptla.org/cars.web/. Suspicions of child abuse or neglect maybe also be
reported to the CPH 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 800-540-4000.


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Child Protection Hotline

24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Toll Free within California

(800) 540-4000

Outside of California

(213) 639-4500

TDD - Hearing Imparied

(800) 272-6699