January 24, 2005
Fixing child abuse takes all
Letter January 2005
The staff, board of directors and volunteers at Child Advocates Inc. have firsthand knowledge of the burden that the Child Protective Services caseworkers are facing.
Many of our program staff members served as CPS caseworkers prior to joining our organization, and our volunteers work with CPS caseworkers daily.
We all know that the majority of these individuals care about the well-being of the children and work tirelessly to ensure that the right decisions are made in every case.
We also recognize the barriers and limitations they face — including the financial cuts that have been made to parts of Texas' child welfare system that have exacerbated an already struggling system.
While we agree that the Legislature has the responsibility of fixing the struggling agency, we also believe it is the entire community's responsibility to take care of the more than 4,200 abused and neglected children who are in foster care right now in the Houston area. Behind every one of the statistics is an innocent child in need of help.
Child Advocates mobilizes community volunteers to provide a voice for the voiceless — those abused and neglected children who are in protective custody. We recruit, train and supervise court appointed special advocates (also known as guardians ad litem), to help guide children through the system.
Our volunteers provide a safety net below the CPS system to make sure that all of the children's needs are met and that a safe, permanent outcome is reached.
Since our volunteers carry only one or two cases at a time, they have the time necessary to fill in the gaps in the system.
Our volunteers remain on a child's case from the time that it is opened in the family court until the child's final placement is resolved.
The volunteer provides continuity on the child's case by pulling together the case history from each caseworker that has ever been involved, interviewing all parties involved in the child's life, and attending all court hearings so that an informed recommendation to the court can be made regarding the best permanent placement for the child.
Since we have a legal responsibility to the court to make unbiased recommendations, we may not always agree with CPS. However, we are confident that we are all working with the child's best interest in mind.
Despite all of our best intentions, children do slip through the bureaucratic cracks and, as we have seen, the results are tragic when they do.
As a community we have witnessed too many of these tragedies over the past 2 1/2 years, and we each need to do our part to help these children.
Their needs are great, but every Houstonian can do something to help. At a time when the system seems hopelessly flawed and tragic stories of abuse surface in the news every few days, Child Advocates challenges more individuals to get involved. Look into the possibility of donating time or money to Child Advocates or to one of the many other groups in Houston who work to help abused children.
Please do not watch from the sidelines or wait for others to get involved. Our children need all of us to take our part.
chief executive officer, Child Advocates Inc., Houston
Posted by Nancy at January 24, 2005 09:42 PM