AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas Senate committee has ordered the commissioner of the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services to provide a revised plan for caseworkers or law enforcement officers to visit thousands of youth reported as abused or neglected.READ MORE: Accused Cop Killer Oscar Rosales Caught At Texas-Mexico Border
“Get the National Guard or the Texas Rangers or whoever out to each house to see these kids now,” said Sen. John Whitmire of Houston told Commissioner Hank Whitman.
Senate Finance Committee Chairwoman Jane Nelson of Flower Mound said Whitman’s deadline was the close of business Thursday. Nelson demanded that Whitman add higher pay to his plan, as most caseworkers are paid starting salaries as low as $34,000.
Last week, Whitman announced he wanted to hire more than 800 investigators, caseworkers and staffers at a cost of $53 million.READ MORE: Texas Woman Who Allegedly Attempted To Buy A Baby At Walmart Arrested
Records show that as of Oct. 17, more than 15,000 children had not been seen by Child Protective Services investigators, as required, between 24 and 72 hours after an abuse report.
More than 2,800 at-risk children have not yet been seen by CPS staff. After a Dallas newspaper reported that through early September half of children referred to Harris County’s CPS investigators weren’t being seen on time, two legislative leaders called for “action plans” to improve face-to-face visitations. Whitman acknowledged that as of early last week, not much has changed.
Department consultant John Stephen testified that child abuse complaints have increased to about 240,000 a year, compared to fewer than 200,000 four years ago. Currently, there are 211 vacancies for caseworker positions.
“I can’t imagine why we would want to do anything more than go find these children tonight,” Nelson said.MORE NEWS: Oakridge High School Teacher Bonnie Guess Mazock Arrested, Charged For Alleged Inappropriate Relationship With Student
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