UPDATE: Investigation Reveals 200+ CPS Calls were 'Ignored'

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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) -- UPDATE (5/20 4:21 pm)

The Shenandoah Valley Social Services (SVSS) has released a press release regarding the unheard voice mails that were deleted from the Child Protective Services (CPS) intake.

"As a department, we acknowledge to the public we serve that this was a mistake – one that we sincerely regret," SVSS wrote the press release. "Changes were made to CPS protocols in the fall of 2014, to ensure that it is not repeated."

To guarantee people receive services from SVSS, they request that callers call them again if they:

1. Called SVSS to make a report of child abuse or neglect between April 18, 2014 and October 29, 2014,

2. Were transferred to the agency’s CPS intake line,

3. Left a voice mail message on the CPS intake line, and

4. Are concerned that SVSS did not receive the information contained in their voice mail message.

Calls should be directed to SVSS’s assistant director, Anita Harris, at (540) 245-5810. Every effort will be made to respond to each caller as promptly as possible.

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A scathing investigation is putting Child Protective Services of Augusta County, Staunton and Waynesboro in the hot seat.

It all surrounds an investigative story published by The News Leader which revealed hundreds of messages to the department's child abuse line were, "ignored and erased."

Shenandoah Valley Social Services covers Augusta County, Staunton and Waynesboro.

The current director said all of of this sparked when IT was looking at improving their phone answering service, when more than 200 ignored calls were uncovered.

At the same time, a pediatrician who couldn't reach a person on the phone to report an abuse case voiced his concerns and an Augusta County investigation got underway.

Elizabeth Middleton, the director for the Shenandoah Valley Social Services, said there used to be one employee assigned to monitor the voicemails, but that employee left in April of 2014. With only 11 employees working there, miscommunication and understaffing led to that responsibility falling through the cracks.

Linda Royster, a local attorney who has worked with Shenandoah Valley Social Services for nearly 10 years and she told me she was shocked when she heard about how so many calls for help were missed.

"I'm horrified, I have two children who were abused before they were adopted, said Royster. "The very thought that someone could have helped those children before I adopted them and a call went unanswered is appalling."