CPS under scrutiny for investigations

October 21, 2009 5:26:40 PM PDT
An emaciated boy whose mother stands accused of his abuse is doing better, though he remains hospitalized. Meanwhile, Child Protective Services is coming under scrutiny for its handling of his case. CPS defends its actions, saying the child was just seen by a doctor two months ago. At the time, a CPS spokesperson says the doctor did not make any allegation of abuse.

Marcia Holliday remains in jail, accused of child abuse. Authorities say she brought her son to the hospital last week. Her three-year-old boy weighed just 17 pounds. Investigators say that's half of what he should weight.

This was not CPS's first encounter with the child. Though never visiting their apartment on Houston's north side before, they saw the family at two prior addresses last year, once following an allegation that the same boy was malnourished. Later they saw the boy again following an accusation that he was being denied medicine for seizures. CPS says both cases were closed without any abuse being found.

CPS refused to field questions on camera about what happened here, despite repeated requests. CPS says it is going back now, talking to a nutritionist and therapist and the doctor who last saw Holliday's son two months ago.

CPS spokesperson Estella Olguin said, "People just can't point at CPS and say you guys should have known."

She adds if one of those authorities had a concern about the boy's welfare, they should have reported it.

"They've always got a reason," said James Shields with Justice for Children. "They just can't say, 'Boy, did we make a mistake on this one.' I've never heard them say that."

The child advocacy group Justice for Children says all too often CPS has dropped the ball in its investigations. Take, for example they say, the deaths of Spring four-year-old Emma Thompson, Katy two-month-old Amber MacCurdy and even a three-year-old Conroe boy. CPS case workers had multiple times been to the home of each. Despite those visits and allegations of abuse, the children were never pulled from the homes. Each child is now dead.

Shields said, "We get criticized for being harsh on CPS all the time, but again, it's our position that if we don't say something, who is? Who will speak for the children?"

Holliday's son has been upgraded from critical to serious condition. He remains in the hospital. A state investigation continues to look at CPS's actions prior to the deaths of those three Houston-area children. No determination as to whether those cases were handled properly has yet been made.

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