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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
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    a grim picture of abuse investigators at Texas Child Protective Services

    The fate of abused children in Texas lies with young, overburdened caseworkers who take nearly three months to sort out allegations, fail to keep up with their charges and sometimes leave them in life-threatening situations, according to a report submitted to the governor Friday.

    The Texas Health and Human Services Commission painted a grim picture of abuse investigators at Texas Child Protective Services in its 14-page report. The preliminary audit went beyond the oft-heard complaint that the $751 million agency doesn't have the resources to tackle the 182,732 abuse complaints received annually.

    After reviewing 2,221 abuse cases across Texas 1,000 of them in the Dallas-Fort Worth area the commission found that CPS caseworkers take an average of 82 days to complete an abuse investigation. The agency relies on a cadre of young investigators who have little experience, fail to consult with supervisors and often ignore prior abuse investigations involving the same child.

    The audit showed that the average monthly caseload for CPS investigators grew from 50 in 2001 to nearly 63 this year. The turnover rate for entry-level abuse investigators was expected to exceed more than 51 percent.

    "It is totally unacceptable," Gov. Rick Perry said through spokeswoman Kathy Walt, adding that Texans "should be shocked and upset, just as I am."

    Mr. Perry had asked the commission in July to investigate CPS's performance after a series of child abuse deaths involving families previously investigated by the agency. A final audit will be submitted Dec. 31.

    In its preliminary audit, the Health and Human Services Commission found that:

    CPS caseworkers failed to take appropriate action in 425 cases in which at least one child was in a state of abuse or neglect, and in 152 cases left at least one child in a life-threatening situation.

    CPS caseworkers failed to maintain contact with suspected abuse victims, consult with a supervisor or provide all available services in more than half of the 583 investigations where action should have been taken.

    Forty-three percent of the investigations involved allegations similar to those made in a previously closed case for that same child.

    CPS workers failed to maintain contact with 60 percent of 171 families who received some sort of counseling or social service to prevent abusive situations. Caseworkers failed to maintain contact with children placed in foster care in nearly half of the 124 cases examined.

    Four out of 10 new CPS caseworkers quit before their second anniversary with the agency.

    The average CPS caseworker had just over four years' on-the-job experience; the average supervisor had nearly 91/2 years on the job. Both figures had decreased in the last two years.

    The audit suggested that CPS reduce caseloads, maintain a well-trained workforce, retain experienced staff, ensure compliance with policies and procedures, develop effective community partnerships, and focus on results that benefit children.

    The commission also announced that CPS investigators would be trained by Nov. 1 to use digital cameras for forensic photography in order to provide supervisors with better documentation on suspected abuse.

    CPS spokesman Geoff Wool said the commission's audit was constructive.

    "We find the report helpful. We think the recommendations are moving us in the right direction," Mr. Wool said. "By adding caseworkers and utilizing technology and strengthening policy, we are able to quickly improve the work that is being done in the field while the rest of the investigation continues."

    Last week, the commission launched a series of emergency measures after the death of 2-year-old Michael Russell, a Dallas toddler who was visited seven times by CPS before he died.

    Those measures included the immediate hiring of 123 new caseworkers, $3,000 bonuses for veteran caseworkers who return to the field and legal action against all uncooperative parents in abuse cases involving children younger than 3.

    In Michael's case, a caseworker failed on Sept. 10 to get his mother, Candace Angela Russell, to submit to random drug testing and to cooperate with other social services. Although the caseworker noted during her visit that day that Michael showed signs of starvation, he was left in the home. He died nine days later.

    Autopsy results are pending, but a CPS report filed with Dallas County juvenile court said the little boy had suffered a blow to the head. No other details were available.

    Agency caseworkers had been led to believe that Michael and his baby sister were living with his mother at his grandmother's home. After the boy's death, however, an anonymous caller informed CPS that Michael and his mother were living with a drug dealer, the court report said.

    Michael's 2-month-old sister was taken into custody after his death. CPS workers met an attorney for Ms. Russell on Friday before State District Judge John Sholden, where they discussed a plan to place the infant with an unidentified family until another hearing in a few weeks.

    Greg Housewirth, Ms. Russell's attorney, declined to discuss the specifics of the case, but said: "The greater question in these kind of cases is what can we do to make this person a better parent."

    Meanwhile, in Austin, Lt. Gov David Dewhurst and Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick both vowed to make CPS a top concern during the next Legislature, which begins in January.

    "The findings in today's report on Child Protective Services are outrageous and unacceptable," Mr. Dewhurst said. "Texas must do a better job to protect children who are victims of abuse and neglect, and we will."

    Mr. Craddick agreed, adding, "I know this issue and the overhaul of this agency will be at the forefront of the next Legislature."

    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcont...cps.27f5f.html
    Just when I think that I have seen the most depraved things a human can do to another human, somebody posts a new story...........

    Why is it that when a custodial parent fails to provide for a child it is called neglect and is a criminal matter. But when a non custodial parent fails to provide it is called failure to support and is a civil matter?


    "Just when the caterpillar thought its world was over, it became a butterfly" ~ Michelle Knight

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    2,384
    One summer internship with Philly's Social Services was enough to make me change my major!!!!!!!!
    The saints are the sinners who keep trying...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    23,799
    I used to work in an agency associated with cps and it is definately a stressful, dangerous job. Interestingly enough, in most investigations into children's services there is always a mention that caseloads are too high. Caseworkers are expected to make life and death decisions for these kids, yet they are given caseloads with little or no training, and have such high loads that they don't have the time to work with the people they are investigating.
    Also they are given little stress relief or support.
    Just when I think that I have seen the most depraved things a human can do to another human, somebody posts a new story...........

    Why is it that when a custodial parent fails to provide for a child it is called neglect and is a criminal matter. But when a non custodial parent fails to provide it is called failure to support and is a civil matter?


    "Just when the caterpillar thought its world was over, it became a butterfly" ~ Michelle Knight

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    2,384
    Its an absolute nightmare.


    I had my heart and life planned on being a social worker and my much anticipated internship was an eye opener to say the least.


    The system is a mess and it seems to get more overloaded each year and the poorly trained and paid workers cant handle it not to mention the inadquate foster homes and the policy of releasing kids at 18 with nothing and no regard for their education/life skills.



    Its sad evidence of the little value our society places on children.
    The saints are the sinners who keep trying...