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Family finds success in program aimed at reducing child abuse, neglect

Child Maltreatment Prevention Project started in 2017

SAN ANTONIO – Felisha Turner is a single mother of five. Her journey hasn’t been easy.

“Going from an abusive family then getting adopted," Turner said about her family.

But she said things are starting to turn around thanks to a city program.

“My kids are more important to me than anything,” Turner said.

Turner is one of 82 families who is part of the Child Maltreatment Prevention Project. It was established in 2017 to help at-risk families in City Council District 5, which had one of the highest rates of child abuse and neglect in San Antonio.

The families are teamed up with a promotora, someone who undergoes specialized training to become a health worker and mentor for families. They work with their assigned families to teach them how to take care of their children properly.

"The developmental stages for their children, knowing what’s appropriate, what’s not, and what they can look out for if there’s maybe some special needs,” said Fabi Avila, director of social and community engagement for Family Service.

“The promotora also helps them complete some of their goals by connecting them to some of those community resources, going back to school, learning how to create a budget, a resume, whatever it may be to get them back to work," Avila said.

Maranda Hernandez became a promotora in 2018. She was connected to Turner in February.

“She’s like my best friend. Like, I can talk to her about anything,” Turner said about Hernandez.

Hernandez said she can relate to the families she helps.

“(I'm) not just a single mom, but just a parent, period. You know, it’s a challenge,” Hernandez said.

According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, in 2017, San Antonio had a total of 5,588 confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect. The number of cases went up to 5,865 in 2018.

The University of Texas at San Antonio is collecting the data from the project to find out if it is reducing child maltreatment.


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