Child Protective Services

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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.

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.

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.

Texas Tribune

Child Protective Services has fired three caseworkers for failing to protect Colton Turner, the 2 year-old whose body was found buried in Southeast Austin last month. 

Colton Turner's mother, Meagan Work, and her boyfriend, Michael Brandt Turner, had been the subjects of four CPS investigations. Allegations included excessive drug use and the toddler's physical and sexual abuse.

Today, CPS spokesperson Patrick Crimmins called it a "very difficult case, a very tragic case."

KUT News

A federal commission is researching how the U.S. can reduce the number of deaths from child abuse and neglect.

Today, a member of that group told Texas lawmakers that no one state agency is to blame for these child fatalities.

The Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities is working on a report for Congress and the President on how the U.S. can fight child deaths. The commission’s Susan Dreyfus says more people like doctors, police officers and caretakers need to call Child Protective Services when they see a child at risk.

KUT News

The second day of the Sunset Advisory Commission’s public meetings at the Capitol is underway.

Today, the public can comment on recommendations made in recent commission staff reports on how to fix major flaws at state agencies, including the Department of Family Protective Services. A June report [click here for PDF] of the Sunset Advisory Commission had about 100 pages of recommendations for reforming the department.

Sunset staff member and project manager Amy Tripp, who worked on the report, told lawmakers Tuesday that caseworkers complain about the punitive work environment.

KUT News

The state’s child welfare agency is suffering from high employee turnover among caseworkers and is having trouble replacing them.

Flickr/Camilla Nilsson http://www.flickr.com/photos/49365126@N07/5489383908/

Victims of spousal abuse in Austin have a new option if their children are to receive supervised visits with the other parent. Travis County has opened PlanetSafe at 11th and Nueces, a supervised visitation and safe exchange center.  Its grand opening is today. 

The facility is operated by the local non-profit Safe Place, and was established with the help of $600,000 in federal grants from the Office of Violence Against Women. Travis County supplied the use of the building for a nominal rent and is paying for staffing. 

Photos: Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Background Image: flickr.com/thomasletholsen

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission has appointed a new head of the Department of Family and Protective Services.

The previous commissioner resigned last week as an Abilene office of the department is under criminal investigation.

Abilene Police say employees at the Child Protective Services office were not cooperative in the investigation into a toddler’s death in August. Police believe some employees may have tampered with evidence.