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Experts Say Texas Child Protective Services Needs Help from Community Members

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KUT News
State Reps. Cindy Burkett, R-Garland, left, and Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, are members of the Texas House Select Committee on Child Protection. The committee hosted a public hearing on Sept. 30, 2014.

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.

"The only way children can be kept safe is if people step up and do something," Dreyfus says.

But State Rep. Tony Dale, R-Cedar Park, says CPS bears most of the responsibility – and that the agency isn’t doing enough.

"We’ve determined through an outside consultant that we’ve brought in that caseworkers only spend about 29 percent of their time with families and children. That’s not enough time, clearly," Rep. Dale says.

Lawmakers also discussed state spending to treat parents with substance abuse issues. State Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, says the money keeps people out of jail.

"For every dollar we spend, we save a lot of money in the future," Rep. Farrar says.

Next legislative session, bills are expected to be filed that will address problems like high caseworker turnover at CPS.

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