HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Pennsylvania’s auditor general says nearly 42,000 calls to the state hotline for reporting suspected child abuse went unanswered last year because at no point was it adequately staffed.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said sweeping changes to the Child Protective Services Law meant increased call volumes at ChildLine, but the Department of Human Services didn’t hire enough caseworkers and the Legislature didn’t provide the necessary funding.

DePasquale released an interim report on Tuesday, saying the critical problems has office found so far couldn’t wait another few months until this audit is finished.

“I’m sounding the alarm as early as I can on these issues because even one unanswered phone call means there could be a child in a life-threatening situation who needs help,” he said. “The ChildLine system hasn’t been functioning in a way that leaves me any confidence that a child can get help when it is needed.”

DePasquale said the 42,000 unanswered calls were about 22 percent of the total calls received. He said the missed calls were either abandoned by the caller as they waited to speak to someone or deflected when the call queue reached the maximum of 30 calls.

The final report is expected by the end of the year.Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download the ABC27 News App and the ABC27 Weather App for your phone and tablet.