This month the halls of the State Capitol will be filled with passionate advocates for children as state lawmakers come together for Child Abuse Prevention Month. In Texas, child abuse is rampant – there were over 60,000 cases of abuse and over 222 child fatalities in 2016.
In Bexar County, the Blue Ribbon Task Force, child abuse advocates, community leaders and elected officials kicked off Child Abuse Prevention month with a press conference on the courthouse steps, now an annual tradition. Community leaders spoke, and reaffirmed the communities collective resolve to continue to raise the awareness of child abuse and neglect.
This legislative session addressing the child abuse epidemic has been a front and center issue. The Senate’s Budget includes an appropriation for 382 new CPS caseworkers, as well as funding for caseworker pay increases. Senator Uresti was a joint-author on Senate Bill 11, which reforms Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) and CPS in order to improve their ability to prevent and stop child abuse.
Senator Uresti has also filed stand-alone measures to improve the system – SB 190 allows DFPS allows to more quickly close low-risk cases to prioritize higher risk ones, and SB 687 would instruct the department to use new data analytic technology to allocate resources. All together, these actions would help to combat child abuse and neglect in Texas.
There will be many events over the upcoming month designed to raise awareness of the importance of child abuse prevention.