P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 19, 2004
AUSTIN -- The Senate Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Senator Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, met in emergency session today to discuss the ongoing problems within the state's Child Protective Services.
"Clearly, we need a systematic change to better protect our children," Senator Nelson said. "I agree with those calling for a reduction of caseloads, but it is apparent that this is not just a problem of manpower. Next session I intend to file a reform bill to ensure we are identifying quickly the serious cases and acting aggressively to protect those children at risk," Senator Nelson said.
Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst requested the emergency hearing after it was reported that more than 500 children under CPS scrutiny had died of neglect or abuse. An audit of CPS found that in 60 percent of the cases it investigated, CPS failed to take appropriate action to protect children.
Individuals on the front lines of the fight against child abuse, including some from Senate District 12, testified before the Senate panel.
"Our goal should be to reduce trauma to the child victim, reduce the number of times they have to tell their story and identify their needs as the investigative and judicial process moves forward," said Nancy Hagan, executive director of Fort Worth-based Alliance for Children.
Carl Coates, a detective with the Grapevine Police Department shared his experiences with the committee. "As a detective, I see a need to remove some of the barriers between CPS and law enforcement so that we can work as a multidisciplinary team to act quickly to protect those children who are clearly in danger," he said.