New data from the Department of Family and Protective Services shows that in more than 40 percent of child abuse cases from September in Travis County, CPS workers didn't visit within the critical time period of the first few hours.
In September of this year, the Department of Family and Protective Services in Central Texas got had almost 15,000 cases of child abuse or neglect.
They divide those into two priorities.
- For a more urgent call, Priority 1, case workers should respond within 24 hours.
- In Priority 2 calls, workers should respond within within 72 hours.
But that's the deadline many case workers are missing.
Data from DFPS shows on March 28, 2016 in Texas CPS workers didn’t see 30 percent of the cases in the 24 or 72 hour time period. It was 31 percent on September 5, 2016.
In Travis County on March 28, case workers didn't get 32 percent of the cases in required time. On September 12, they missed the time mark 42 percent of the time.
Stacy Bruce, the Executive Director of the Austin Children's Shelter, said that's surprising.
"The numbers are always a little surprising to me because at the local level and daily interactions with child protective services we see them doing a good job, we see passion, we see care,” said Bruce.
She said she sees case workers wanting to make a change.
"We know that the case workers have big hearts and passion for this work, however, they are limited by the system," said Bruce.
But she said time is of the essence.
"We have to get there quickly," said Bruce.
A spokesman for DFPS said the key is more workers in the field but acknowledges a high turnover rate. He said they're asking lawmakers for 510 more investigative workers in next year's budget.
Bruce sees this as an opportunity for the community to come together for change.
"We see other local nonprofits and foundations also stepping up coming to the table and saying how can we as a community come together to protect these children,” said Bruce.
The DFPS spokesman also said a lot of times CPS workers attempt to contact families, but can't find them. That's one big reason lawmakers passed Colton's Law last session in honor of Colten Turner. The law requires CPS to notify law enforcement if they can't find a child after reports of abuse.
A few other numbers from the DFPS data:
Statewide on September 12, 2016:
- 7.2% priority one cases were not seen by case workers at all.
- 16.9 % priority one cases weren’t seen within 24 hours.
- 10.1% priority two cases were not seen by case workers.
- 36.4% priority two cases were not seen within 72 hours.
In Region 7 (which includes Central Texas) on September 12, 2016:
- 4.2% priority one cases were not seen by case workers.
- 13.3% priority one cases were not seen within 24 hours.
- 6.4% priority two cases were not seen.
- 38.9% priority two cases were not seen within 72 hours.
In Travis County on September 12, 2016:
- 3.7% priority one cases were not seen by a case worker.
- 8.2% priority two cases were not seen by a case worker within 24 hours.
- 9.1% priority two cases were not seen by a case worker.
- 44.8% priority two cases were not seen within 72 hours.
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