Already overwhelmed employees in the understaffed Child Protective Services in Texas will now have more work following the retirement or firing of five of 10 regional directors.
Five regional directors have chosen to retire from CPS including one from west Texas in lieu of re-applying for her job and being re-evaluated, according to CPS spokesman Patrick Crimmins.
CPS in Texas has been under tremendous pressure following the deaths of children under its supervision. The fatalities have led to an overhaul of the agency, but some fear things may get much worse before improvements are seen.
The vacancies come at a time when employees are already overtaxed, morale is low and compensation is reportedly lacking. Earlier this week, members of the Texas House criticized the department that oversees CPS in Texas. A bipartisan committee comprised of Chairman Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) and Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) issued a report claiming thousands of vulnerable children are not being seen by child abuse investigators within the required timeline.
The statements follow a series of hearings held across the state by the bipartisan committee. Breitbart Texas reported in July that Rep. Dustin Burrows from Lubbock inquired about the role for the faith-based communities to play in protecting children. Burrows asked about hiring teachers as possible child abuse caseworkers within the agency.
Jonathan Stickland said in July, “While seeking to reform Child Protective Services, we need to be careful that those that are in the mess are not part of fixing it.” As to Rep. Coleman’s shutting Rep. Stickland down in asking questions, Stickland added, “I am convinced that the constitutional rights of parents do matter,” he emphasized. “It must be part of the process.”
The members of the committee also looked at the idea of hiring retired police officers because of their experience and training in recognizing child abuse.
The troubled agency is asking Texas lawmakers for additional funds to add more staff and raise pay to levels that could attract higher quality candidates.
Crimmins told the Dallas newspaper there is “intense activity going on behind the scenes.” On Monday, Commissioner Henry “Hank” Whitman demanded that all 10 regional directors re-apply for their jobs. The move prompted many to put in their retirement papers or refuse altogether.
Crimmins also announced that all regional management employees above the level of caseworker will be evaluated to determine if they are properly helping caseworkers make the correct decisions in these important cases.
The department has been facing high turnover in recent years. Earlier this year, The Dallas Morning News reported 57 percent of the employees in Dallas County had quit. Unfortunately, the low pay, morale and performance led to children being left to die.
Most recently, A Texas mother drowned her two children in a bathtub after CPS had been involved. An investigation was launched after it was determined the children had twice been visited by CPS workers but they were not removed.