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Strain on system created to prevent abuse can lead to tragedy

Posted at 7:51 PM, Jun 19, 2020
and last updated 2021-01-17 18:37:40-05

Both parents of 2-year old Frankie Gonzales are behind bars after the toddler's body was found in a dumpster, sparking an investigation by the Department of Family and Protective Services.

"If you're aware of any abuse or neglect that a child is in, then you have a duty to inform authorities," said Brian Howell, an attorney with the Howell Law Firm who deals with families trying to resolve CPS cases.

"CPS can't live with the parents. They can just do everything they can to make sure that the problems and concerns they had upon removal are fit before the children are brought back in their care," said Howell.

Last year in Texas there was nearly 70,000 confirmed victims of child abuse. That's for children 18-years-old and younger.

As of August 2019, there were 3,728 CPS caseworkers with an average of about 22 daily caseloads.

Leigh Ann Holloway is a former Family Based Safety Services worker with CPS. She says she had to get out of the business because it go to be too much.

"It's a very overwhelming position number one. I mean you're talking about child abuse day in day out, neglect sex abuse. It's an every day ordeal," Holloway said.

According to Holloway CPS isn't a perfect system, and when situations happen like Frankie's, both the case worker and their supervisor are placed on desk duty.

But it only adds to the strain as their cases get passed on to other caseworkers.

"Everybody is trying to do the right thing, but there's a lot of factors involved in CPS cases," Howell said.

If you're under CPS investigation or feel like your caseworker is not the right fit, you should communicate with your attorney in order to provide the best and safest outcome for you and your child.

"Everyone involved wants to do the right thing. They wouldn't be in that job, in that position, if they didn't have the best interest of the child in mind," said Howell.

If you feel like you're in need of help, CPS also offers family-based safety services, including drug treatment, counseling, and more to help keep families together.