Team to review CPS

September 4, 2009 8:51:41 PM PDT
The state responds to mounting criticism aimed at Child Protective Services following the deaths of three young children. The state has sent a team to Houston to find out what, if anything could have been done differently to save those young lives. The families of each of those three cases had a history with Child Protective Services. Officials say the team will be coming to Houston to take a tough look at the way things are done in the Houston office. They are fully aware of the criticism that has come following the most recent deaths.

CPS first came under fire after four-year-old Emma Thompson. CPS had failed to remove the child from the family's home, even though she had been diagnosed with an STD prior to her death. There was more criticism when it was learned two-month-old Amber MacCurdy died of a staph infection after CPS investigated her family. And recently, a three-year-old Montgomery County boy died from blunt trauma days after CPS workers had been to his home.

As a result of those deaths, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services commissioner, who oversees CPS, ordered a team to come to Houston and investigate. Those members will be pulling in a random sample of cases to examine, conducting structured interviews with staff, and gathering and studying child death reports to see how they were handled.

However, critics say these measures have been done before, in fact, since the late 1980s, under similar circumstances to little or no change within the agency.

Randy Burton of Justice for Children said, "What I'm afraid of is that this is nothing but a dog and pony show, that they're going to talk to a few people, then they get some input from the public. But we've done this countless times."

"We want to improve the system," explained CPS spokesperson Estella Olguin. "We encourage and we look forward to what are some of the improvements, because case workers, it's really a difficult job that they do. Every day they're going out and trying to make decisions and trying to predict human behavior. There are tough decisions and we welcome any help we can get."

One of the areas of improvement CPS says they have already recognized is getting law enforcement partners out on serious cases from the beginning. It's something critics say they have been asking for for years.

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