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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Missed Signs. Fatal Consequences.

Important, if grim, sobering report on Child Protective Services in the state of Texas.  A shocking close to 800 children died in Texas in less than five years of abuse or neglect.  This is the first of a three-part series about those deaths and CPS' responsibilities therein. 

"Texas is not publicly reporting hundreds of abuse- and neglect-related child deaths each year. Between 2010 and 2014 the Department of Family and Protective Services did not publicly report 655 child abuse-related fatalities, even though the department confirmed that those children had been mistreated prior to their deaths.
Nearly half of the children who died were already on CPS’s radar. Of those 380 fatalities, 144 families — more than a quarter — had been the subject of a CPS investigation at least 3 times. In 12 instances, CPS had seen the family 10 or more times. CPS had contact with one family more than 20 times before the child died."

A constructive response to this should save lives.


-Angela


Missed Signs.  Fatal Consequences.


How Texas missed deadly patterns and key pieces of information that could have helped protect vulnerable children.

In 2009, the Legislature ordered Child Protective Services to publicly record every abuse- and neglect-related death in the state in hopes of identifying patterns and discovering ways to prevent abuse deaths. But the Statesman has learned that CPS has not systematically analyzed those reports, meaning that in important ways, Texas’ child protection workers effectively have been operating with blinders, missing deadly patterns and key pieces of information that could help protect kids.
For the last six months, Statesman reporters Andrea Ball and Eric Dexheimer analyzed each of those 779 reports and uncovered a series of troubling findings:
  • Texas is not publicly reporting hundreds of abuse- and neglect-related child deaths each year. Between 2010 and 2014 the Department of Family and Protective Services did not publicly report 655 child abuse-related fatalities, even though the department confirmed that those children had been mistreated prior to their deaths.
  • Nearly half of the children who died were already on CPS’s radar. Of those 380 fatalities, 144 families — more than a quarter — had been the subject of a CPS investigation at least 3 times. In 12 instances, CPS had seen the family 10 or more times. CPS had contact with one family more than 20 times before the child died.
  • In 125 instances, a child had been previously separated from the home prior to his death because of safety concerns. In 41 cases, the child who eventually died was the one removed from the home.
  • Even though the agency has a unit dedicated to finding missing families, at least 15 kids died after they dropped off CPS’s radar.
  • Since 2009, more than 50 CPS workers have been caught lying to prosecutors, ignoring court orders, falsifying state records or obstructing law enforcement investigations, according to an American-Statesman review of state and court documents. At least four former CPS employees are currently facing criminal charges for their alleged misconduct.
  • Of the nearly 300 child abuse homicides and suspected homicides analyzed, some cases unaccountably drug out for years. The paper also found that one of every five child abuse beating or strangulation deaths — the way most children are killed — has been left unsolved, leaving relatives, law enforcement and local communities bereft of closure or justice.
Read on here.



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