Making Democracy Work

Child Abuse and Neglect

The Texas Young Lawyers Association PSA on Child Abuse

Updates from Margaret Hester Child Abuse and Neglect Issue Chair (Austin)

Testimony

Coalitions and Resources

Resources

  • TexProtects Brings together advocates and experts in the field of child protection in order to develop a consensus public policy agenda and to advocate for child protection with one voice.

  • Texans Cares For Children A statewide, non-profit, non-partisan, multi-issue children's policy organization.

  • Children's Defense Fund Leave No Child BehindŽ mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.

  • Kids Count.org For data about how kids are doing in your county.

  • INSPIRE: seven strategies for ending violence against children identifies a select group of strategies that have shown success in reducing violence against children. They are: implementation and enforcement of laws; norms and values; safe environments; parent and caregiver support; income and economic strengthening; response and support services; and education and life skills. INSPIRE is WHO's main contribution to the newly established Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children

  • CPS Operational Review by the Stephen Report (April 20, 2014), Used in Missed Signs, Austin American Statesman

Acronyms: What does that mean?

Position LWV-TX

Child Abuse and Neglect

CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT + 1990, 1995, 2009

The League of Women Voters of Texas supports the development and implementation of adequate legislation, policies, services, and programs to protect children from abuse and neglect. Measures the League supports include, but are not limited to the following:

  • adequate funding from governmental and private sources to provide appropriately trained staff and uniform statewide availability and accessibility of effective services and programs

  • provision by the responsible state and local agencies for varied and sufficient services to ensure the protection of children

  • development and implementation of programs to prevent child abuse and neglect

  • mandatory, uniform, and ongoing training in recognizing and reporting physical and behavioral indicators of child abuse and neglect for persons responsible for the safety and welfare of children, such as law enforcement officers, judges and probation officers, educators, child-care givers, and medical personnel

  • availability and enforcement of measures, including protective orders, for the removal of the abuser from home when appropriate

  • stringent correctional measures for persons who abuse or neglect children, including mandatory specialized treatment and counseling as well as appropriate enhancements for repeated offenses.

LWV-US Position

Issue Studies and Explanation

Delegates at the 1989 state Convention adopted a novel plan regarding this issue. After LWV- Houston Area completed a local study of child abuse and neglect and adopted its local position, the LWV-TX board narrowed the scope of the position statement so that it was appropriate for a statewide concurrence process. The narrowed position statement and a publication (Focus) adapted and edited by the LWV-TX board from LWV-Houston's Facts & Issues was subsequently made available to participating members statewide. After careful evaluation of resulting concurrence data, the LWV-TX board adopted the state League position in June 1990.

During the Periodic Program Review process in 1993-95, wording changes that enhance format consistency and reflect changed circumstances were suggested by the PPR Committee and received final approval at the 1995 Convention. A substantive addition to the position was also approved: support for stringent correctional measures for persons who abuse or neglect children, including mandatory specialized treatment and counseling, as well as enhancement for repeated offenses. The re-worded position is set forth above.

In Statewide Conference, March 2009, delegates voted to drop our position's limitation to abuse "in their families and homes" so that we could support bills that would reform the Texas Youth Commission.

History of LWV-TX Action

1990-1995: During this period, the League supported its Child Abuse and Neglect positions through membership in the Texas Council on Family Violence. In 1995 we supported a measure that rededicated monies paid to the Children's Trust Fund of Texas (CTF) directly into the agency's operating funds, thus establishing an improved, more direct method for the CTF to provide funds to communities for local abuse prevention programs.

1999: During the legislative session, funding to Child Protective Services (CPS) was increased significantly. Foster care received a 7% increase. 220 new CPS staff, which had been authorized by an emergency-spending bill, was augmented by an additional 160 caseworkers in order to lower caseloads and to improve the effectiveness of child abuse investigations.

2003: During this legislative session Children's Protective Services was reorganized and will continue to be impacted as the result of a huge human services reconsolidation law. Several prevention programs lost funding in the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, including Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Healthy Families, Family Outreach, and the Children's Trust Fund.

2005: Although LWV-TX did not set a priority for this issue, reform of Child Protective Services (CPS) was an important aspect of this session for legislators. The omnibus bill relating to child abuse, as passed and signed by the Governor, decreases worker case loads, strengthens ties between CPS and law enforcement, and provides other protections for children. A last minute attempt to ban gay foster parenting was ultimately unsuccessful. The bill does institute privatization of services for children over the next 6 years, beginning with one region. In the budget battles, CPS received a 12% increase in funding (state and federal), which will be used to reduce caseloads.

2009: Three bills supported by the League were passed and signed by Governor Perry. SB 1646 (Van de Putte) creates a Council of Children and Families. SB 2080 (Uresti) creates a Task Force whose task would be to form a strategy for reducing child abuse and neglect and improving child welfare, including providing assistance for adoptive parents and foster care parents. HB 1041 (Parker) relates to school districts policies on addressing sexual abuse and establishes a state agency to reduce child abuse and neglect and to improve child welfare. In addition, the overall budget of CPS received a 8.1% increase over 2008-09 General Revenue expenditures including funding for an additional 118.6 Family Based Safety Services Staff to increase face-to-face contact with children and their parents, therapy for abused children, treatment and other services for parents/families, an increase in foster care services, and funds to strengthen services to youth transitioning from foster care.

2011: There was some success in this area with the passage of six bills supported by the LWV. These included bills by Senators Nelson, Uresti, and West which related to the operation of child protective services and the foster care system, mental health services for children in foster care, and the establishment of a task force to study the relationship between domestic violence and child abuse. Also school districts are required to expand their policies to include all types of abuse and to require training of new staff.

2013: With the passage of two bills supported by LWV-TX, progress was made on recognition and reporting of child abuse and penalties for not reporting it: SB 939 (West) relates to training to recognize child abuse in schools and reporting it. HB 1205 (Parker, Raymond, Zerwas, Fallon) relates to the offense of failure to report abuse or neglect of a child in schools or institutes of higher learning.

Other bills also supported by LWV-TX passed: SB 44 (Zaffirini, West) provides mental health services in certain child abuse or neglect cases. SB 66 (Nelson) relates to studying the causes of and making recommendations for reducing child fatalities, including those from abuse or neglect. SB 245 (West) relates to eligibility of children's advocacy centers to provide services for children and family members in cases of child abuse and neglect. SB 1758 (Uresti) establishes a task force to examine hiring and management practices of the Department of Family and Protective Services. HB 1228 (Dukes) relates to consideration by the court of sex abuse and conduct that constitutes sexual assault in certain suits affecting the parent-child relationship.