“Missed Signs, Fatal Consequences”

Austin American-Statesman 
January 11, 2015


In 2009, the Texas Legislature ordered Child Protective Services to publicly record every abuse- and neglect-related death in the state, but those reports had not been thoroughly analyzed to help identify patterns to prevent future deaths — until the Austin American-Statesman did just that.

Over six months, Statesman reporters analyzed each of those 779 reports and uncovered troubling findings that they published in a series of groundbreaking reports in January 2015. Among the key findings:

* Texas is not publicly reporting hundreds of abuse- and neglect-related child deaths each year.
* Nearly half of the children who died were already on CPS’s radar. In 12 instances, CPS had seen the family 10 or more times before the child died.
* Even though the agency has a unit dedicated to finding missing families, at least 15 kids died after they dropped off CPS’s radar.
* Since 2009, more than 50 CPS workers have been caught lying to prosecutors, ignoring court orders, falsifying state records or obstructing law enforcement investigations.

An interactive data feature with this story allowed readers to crunch the numbers themselves and to see information about each child’s death.

Change is on the way as a result the newspaper’s investigation. A state legislator vowed to push for a new law compelling Child Protective Services to release details on every abuse-related death it investigates. A member of Congress said he found the paper’s revelations troubling and would be submitting the findings to several federal agencies.

LINK to story online

Submitted by John Bridges.

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