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DPS Troopers Assisting In Effort To Locate Missing CPS Children

The Texas Tribune

Special agents with the Department of Public Safety are being used to locate an estimated 2,800 children who have been deemed by the state as at high-risk for abuse.  The DPS began assisting Child Protective Services in their efforts following a fiery meeting at the state capitol and a legislative ultimatum.

Patrick Crimmins with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the group who oversees CPS has confirmed that fewer than two dozen DPS special agents are working in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, going door-to-door to find these kids, taking a picture on their phone, and sending it to a CPS caseworker.

“I mean it’s kind of a welfare check kind of thing is what it is for the most part, but it is on a very limited basis, it’s only going to be Dallas, Houston and San Antonio," Crimmins explains.

Crimmins says DPS special agents are just there to "put eyes" on these children and lack the necessary jurisdiction to investigate children’s claims of abuse at this level unless they believe a crime has occurred.  DFPS officials say that during their sweep through Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, DPS special agents were able to locate 26 of 47 children deemed at high-risk for abuse, 4 were from the San Antonio area.

Credit Ryan Poppe
Houston Sen. John Whitmire

The emergency relief follows a tense hearing at the state capitol on Wednesday where senate lawmakers like Houston State Senator John Whitmire demanded the new head of CPS, Hank Whitman, take immediate action to find these at-risk children that no caseworker has seen in months.

“Excuse me, you just said that they haven’t been seen, well hell they may die before you get there," Whitmire told Whitman.

Kate Murphy with the non-profit Texans Care For Children calls the effort a temporary fix of a much bigger problem because even after DPS special agents have located these children an individual CPS caseworker still has to conduct a follow-up visit with hundreds of families.

“I think we need to start working right away with some real fixes to investigations, including hiring more caseworkers for investigations and paying higher salaries to stop turnover," Murphy says.

The head of CPS has requested the legislature allow his agency to hire an additional 550 caseworkers before the start of the 2017 legislative session.

As per the legislature request, the head of CPS handed over a plan for improving the agency on Thursday.  It includes a plan to reduce the agency’s turnover rate by providing an across the board $12,000 raise and a request to hire additional caseworkers.

Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.