Report: Child abuse deaths remain high in Bexar County

State Senator compares rate to Newtown death toll

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services reports the number of child abuse deaths in Bexar County remains high.

Patrick Crimmins, DFPS spokesman, said 19 children died during the fiscal year ending September 2011, only one less than the previous year.

State Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-Dist. 19, said the numbers are the same as the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 schoolchildren were gunned down in a matter of minutes last month.

“That’s how many kids were killed in San Antonio in one year, so we should be outraged. We should be infuriated and say, 'Enough is enough,'” Uresti said.

Uresti also said Bexar County has another dubious distinction: “Almost 6,000 confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect here in San Antonio.”

However, already meager funding for child prevention programs was cut in half during the last legislative session, Uresti said.  

“We’re only spending half a percent of our total budget on prevention. That’s why you have the problems that we continue to see,” Uresti said.

He said the child abuse prevention programs are considered the first line of defense in saving lives.

“These are programs that work, that are effective, they’re proven -- but they’re not funded properly,” Uresti said.

Uresti said he wants that funding restored from the state’s rainy day fund.

The San Antonio lawmaker, who serves on the Health and Human Services Committee that oversees Child Protective Services, also said the agency suffers from a 30 percent turnover rate, so it needs to replace those caseworkers.

Uresti created the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Child Abuse following the Christmas Day starvation death of Jovonnie Ochoa in 2003 that forced the overhaul of Child Protective Services.

“We were able to get the funding for CPS that had not been there for a decade,” Uresti said.

He also said the group has helped raise awareness locally and statewide about the issue, leading to more cases being reported.

The state of Texas has set up a toll-free hotline number to report child abuse: 1-800-252-5400.

For a list of recent stories Jessie Degollado has done, click here.


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