SPOKANE, Wash. – Crime statistics said child abuse cases are going up in Spokane County.
The child abuse statistics in Spokane County are also the worst in the state.
Police believe one of the worst cases happened on Sunday when a toddler was left in a coma. Ths 21-month-old is still in intensive care here at Sacred Heart. She is currently in critical condition and has brain swelling. Brandon Oquendo is in jail on first degree child abuse charges in connection to the incident.
In the past decade, the Spokane Regional Health District reports the number of child abuse cases has spiked almost by a quarter. Health officials said 5,431 of those cases happened just in 2015. Spokane's child abuse rate is far above that of both Washington state and the U.S.
Back in February, Kitara Johnson's 9-month-old nephew died. Police arrested the boy's babysitter, who is now awaiting trial for murder. Johnson is now a leading advocate for the state to make changes that would prevent child abuse. At the top of her list is affordable and safe childcare for low-income families.
"You're seeing a lot of single moms using the boyfriends to off-set the cost," Johnson explained.
Studies show the average cost of childcare for a toddler is $730 a month. For an infant, it is around $1,000.
Johnson plans to present her recommendations to Washington's Blue Ribbon Commission, a new state agency that combines information from such departments like Department of Social and Health Services but focuses solely on kids and families. Lawmakers insist it will streamline information sharing.,leading to faster action for at-risk kids across the state.