Child Protective Services

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From Texas Standard:

The 85th legislative session focused so much on measures like the "sanctuary cities" bill and the "bathroom" bill that it’s easy to forget that much of the initial focus was supposed to be on something else.

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The Texas House on Thursday passed a package of sweeping measures aimed at addressing a crisis in the state's child welfare system.

After a lengthy debate, the House passed Senate Bill 11, a measure that would have Texas shift to a "community-based care" model for handling some endangered children and allowing contracted organizations — not just the resources-strapped state — to monitor children in foster care and adoptive homes.

Illustration by Todd Wiseman/Paul Hudson

Texas House and Senate leaders unveiled dueling budget proposals — starting nearly $8 billion apart — in separate moves Tuesday that foreshadowed remarkably different priorities in the two chambers during a legislative session that promises to be even more tightfisted than usual. 

Texas Senate Finance Chairwoman Jane Nelson on Tuesday proposed a $213.4 billion two-year base budget.

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From Texas Standard:

Earlier this month state officials granted Child Protective Services (CPS) an emergency request to give the agency an additional $150 million to raise pay for current employees and hire 800 more.

Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

A board of lawmakers has given final approval for $150 million in funding to help pull the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services out of its crisis mode — but there are strings attached. 

In a letter dated Thursday, the Legislative Budget Board has given the agency the go-ahead to hire 829 new caseworkers and give $12,000 raises to existing ones. The funding includes $142.4 million in state dollars and $7.6 million in federal money. 

Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

A Texas legislative panel is recommending $75.3 million in emergency funding for the Department of Family and Protective Services to start fixing the state's dysfunctional foster care system, but agency Commissioner Hank Whitman won't get everything he requested.

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From Texas Standard

After reports that Child Protective Services caseworkers have let thousands of children at risk for abuse and neglect slip through the system’s cracks, a select team of police will begin to search the state for them.

The more than 2,800 children aren’t missing – they've instead been put on waiting lists for state intervention after tips about their safety were called in on the Texas child abuse hotline.

Texas Tribune

On any given day in the last six months, nearly a thousand of Texas' "highest-priority" children — considered by the state to be at immediate risk of physical or sexual abuse — were not checked on even once by Child Protective Services investigators.

Another 1,800 of those kids were seen by investigators, but not within the required 24-hour window following an urgent report of possible abuse or mistreatment.

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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.

 


KUT News

If you dropped your child off at day care this morning, you likely left them with a regulated provider. That means they have to follow a bunch of state rules created to make day care centers safer. But advocates say the state is not doing enough to improve one of those standards – specifically, the ratio of caretakers-to-children in each facility.


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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.

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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.

Shelby Tauber / Texas Tribune

The state agency in charge of preventing and investigating child abuse in Texas is in turmoil. Child Protective Services recently lost a slew of investigators in Dallas. A four-year-old child that was on the state’s radar because of abuse was beaten to death. As a result, Governor Greg Abbott announced changes in leadership at the agency, but state lawmakers on Wednesday discussed even more possible changes.


Callie Richmond/Texas Tribune

Daniel Hernandez, an investigator for the state’s Child Protective Services agency, left his South Austin home at dawn on a recent Thursday holding a stack of folders. Their contents detailed troubles facing the children and families Hernandez was scheduled to check on that day: a starving infant, parents using drugs in front of a child and a teenager's suicide attempt.

Image via Flickr/SAM Nasim (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Each day in the United States, four to five children die due to child abuse and neglect. That number comes out to about 1,500 children each year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and experts say many more cases go unreported.

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The challenges facing Child Protective Services in Texas are well known. The agency is underfunded and never seems to have enough personnel to adequately care for the thousands of children in its system.

But, this year, the agency did something different: CPS is looking for ways to prevent crises from happening in the first place.

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