Joy Diaz

Producer, Texas Standard

Texas Standard reporter Joy Diaz has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work in public media reporting. Prior to joining Texas Standard, Joy was a reporter with Austin NPR station KUT on and off since 2005. There, she covered city news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.
Originally from Mexico, Joy moved to the U.S. in 1998 when her husband Luis was transferred from his job in Mexico City to Virginia. While there, Joy worked for Roanoke NPR station WVTF.

Joy speaks English and Spanish (which is a plus in a state like Texas). She graduated from Universidad de Cuautitlán Izcalli in Mexico City with a degree in Journalism. In 2008 she took a break to devote herself to her two young children, before returning to the KUT studios. She loves reading, painting and spending time engaging with the community.

Ways to Connect

Courtesy Ballet Austin

From Texas Standard:

Few parents put pen to paper to figure out how much they'll spend if their kids end up loving the activity they started at age three. For example, by the time your adorable toddler girl – who’s in love with ballet – graduates high school you will have spent as much as $100,000 on fees, tutus and training. That's according to an estimate by Dance USA.

If your daughter goes pro – her training could be as expensive as a doctor's. But ballet is not just for girls. Boys spend much less on a lifetime of ballet training.

 


Nate Lampa/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Texas began a strategic plan to reform the foster care system in 2014, but the overhaul is still in the early stages of rollout. The plan has been moving forward without much fanfare, at a time when Child Protective Services is taking a lot of heat for some high-profile tragedies.

The biggest change is a shift away from investigation efforts – the CPS worker who comes knocking on the door asking questions – to a public heath approach aimed at strengthening families and reducing the number of serious injuries and fatalities.

The plan puts a heavy emphasis on the staggering cost of child abuse and the need to be smarter about resources – to use big data as never before. 

 


Joy Diaz/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

The Texas foster care system is not perfect. We’ve all heard stories about children bouncing around from one foster placement to another, or kids who are in and out of the system – as if going through a revolving door.

But that’s not the intent. Marissa Gonzalez is a spokesperson for Child Protective Services.

"When a child first comes into foster care, it is temporary,” she says. “The whole idea is for them to be safely reunited with their parents."

 


Joy Diaz/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Many nights – somewhere in a Texas Child Protective Services office – there's a child sleeping, tucked in somewhere among the desks and computers instead of spending the night with a family. That’s because there are not enough families in Texas registered to foster kids who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect.

But the situation would be much worse for CPS without the help of these children’s extended families. Thousands of aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends around Texas volunteer to care for kids while they're in the system. CPS calls this type of care a kinship placement.

 


Texas Department of Public Safety

From Texas Standard:

For a while, we've known that human trafficking is a big problem in Texas. But a new study from D.C. advocacy group called the Polaris Project looked at nearly a decade's worth of data and found that much of human trafficking in Texas operates in illicit bars and cantinas.

My Lo Cook, director of Polaris' efforts in Mexico, says the cases in Houston center around cantinas, which researchers see as common venues for human trafficking in Southern California as well. Houston has more cases than other cities, Cook says, in part because local officials and organizations make the effort to link cases together and prosecute them.

 


Stefano Corso/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Editor's note: This story uses first names only because of an ongoing case with Child Protective Services.

Since at least the 1970s, researchers in Texas have been calling substance use a "family affair." A study by the Texas Research Institute's Drug Abuse Clinic compared two groups of families similar to each other in every aspect – from socio-economic status to ethnic background. The only difference was that one group had at least one family member who was an addict. The study found fathers dealing with drugs were critical and arrogant, mothers were disenfranchised and children were bitter and resentful.

That was in the '70s, but the story is not so different today.


João Lavinha/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

About 10 percent of the country’s homeless youth live in Texas – that means more than 100,000 young people don’t have a steady place to live. Austin and San Antonio are two of three U.S. cities participating in a 100-day challenge to reduce a systemic aspect of youth homelessness.

Terry McCombs/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

When Sam Espinosa was a kid, it took a while for Austin Independent School District to learn he was homeless.

"My mom is a fairly private person – she was never one to let anyone else into,  you know, what we were going through," Espinosa says.

So, Sam and his five siblings became fairly good at pretending they had a place to live.

 


Courtesy AFL-CIO

This is part two of a two-part series looking at the historical 1966 farm workers strike in Texas. From Texas Standard:

Our collective dictionary for the concept of civil rights, historically speaking, includes heroes such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. It includes iconography like the white signs held by striking Memphis sanitation workers, proclaiming "I am a man" in bold capital letters. It includes songs, like "We shall overcome."

Heather Cortright for Army ROTC/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Every year thousands of veterans benefit from the so-called post-9/11 GI bill, which pays for tuition to help vets afford college.

The original GI bill was credited with lifting many families into the middle class after World War II. Texas has a similar version of the bill, called the Hazlewood Act and the Texas Comptroller – Glenn Hegar, the man with the state's check book – says the act is too pricey.

The act goes back to 1943 and Hegar says three factors have contributed to the rise in expenses in providing this service to Texans.

 


Joy Diaz/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

This is part one of a three-part series looking at farm workers in Texas.

Fifty years ago, farm workers in Texas walked off their jobs to protest their low pay and terrible working conditions. And in the searing summer heat of 1966, they staged a historic march across the state. Many were beaten and arrested, but most history books have overlooked it. Now, some of those original marchers are telling their stories.

Daria Vera has never forgotten that brutally hot summer back in 1966.


Caleb Bryant Miller/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

Out of the Blue: 50 Years After the UT Tower Shooting” is Texas Standard’s oral history on the anniversary of the first public mass shooting of its kind. Throughout the week, we'll be bringing you more stories about the impact the shooting had on Texas and the world.

The University at Texas at Austin motto is meant to inspire: "What starts here changes the world."

Joy Diaz/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

The Standard has been following Courtney Meeks and William Welch since January. We’ve reported on their pregnancy, Baby Eve's birth, and search for housing.  

Kahron Spearman/Facebook

From Texas Standard.

Philando Castile. Alton Sterling. Brent Thompson. Patrick Zamarripa. Michael Krol. Michael Smith. Lorne Ahrens.

Flickr/biologycorner (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Penalties for the vendor behind this year's botched state student achievement tests total $1.4 million and Texas education officials say the penalties are likely to rise even further for the screw-ups with this year's STAAR exams – computer glitches, missing materials, disappearing answers, lost test results, student information leaked sent to the wrong school districts.

pixydust8605/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

If you’re the church-going type, you’ve probably heard hundreds – maybe thousands – of sermons throughout your life. You probably don’t remember most of them. But one recently caught my attention.

Jared Hersch/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Editor's note: This story discusses details that may not be suitable for children.

Fifteen years ago this week, Andrea Yates – a mom from a Houston suburb – methodically and systematically drowned all five of her children. The kids ranged in age from six months to seven years old.

Pexels (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

When it comes to kids and their well-being, Texas isn't doing a very good job. In fact, the state ranks very close to the bottom of the list – at 43.

That ranking comes from the latest "Kids Count" study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Texas-based Center for Public Policy Priorities, which looked at areas like education rankings and the number of children without health insurance.

 


Mark Goebel/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

In recent weeks there have been reports of the crumbling infrastructure of the state’s Child Protective Services – an agency responsible for the well-being of 12,000 of the most neglected and abused kids in Texas.

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