AUSTIN, Texas — Texas officials ordered child welfare investigators to work overtime this weekend to ensure that kids at risk of abuse are being seen and evaluated.
State Child Protective Services spokesman Patrick Crimmins told The Dallas Morning News (http://bit.ly/2daJWt6 ) the workers will have face-to-face visits in Bexar (bayr), Dallas and Harris counties.
State records released earlier this week show that investigators are still not promptly checking on thousands of kids as Texas grapples with a shortage of caseworkers. Around the Houston area alone, nearly 270 kids considered at serious risk never had a face-to-face visit with an investigator from March to September.
Overtime will be paid to investigators and supervisors for several weeks, according to an agency email obtained by the newspaper. CPS workers elsewhere in Texas also are being asked to travel this month to Dallas, Houston or San Antonio to assist with cases for at least a week.
Crimmins said in an email Friday to the newspaper that not everyone assigned to the metro areas is required to work this weekend, “just whoever has kids they have not seen or who have not documented attempts or actual visits.”
“Getting to children who may be in danger before they are harmed is why CPS exists, and we obviously have to do a better job,” he said.
The data released Tuesday by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, which oversees CPS, is more evidence of a troubled system that Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has pledged to overhaul. He appointed new leadership in April but scores of at-risk children are still going unseen.
Texas struggles to retain low-paid caseworkers and had a turnover rate of 33 percent last year.
An Abbott spokesman has said the governor will continue pushing reforms.
Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com