5 calls for sex offenses at Children’s Shelter facilities since February, records show

Contract shows foster care agencies threatened with $10,000 fines for not accepting emergency placements

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio police have investigated at least four sexual offenses at Children’s Shelter facilities and responded to a separate call for lewd conduct since the start of February, records obtained Tuesday by the KSAT 12 Defenders confirm.

Confirmation of the calls for service from SAPD comes a day after the shelter was forced to remove any remaining children from its emergency shelter after a state-instituted placement hold went into effect there.

Officials from the Department of Family and Protective Services have not said if any of the calls to SAPD factored into the hold being put in place but confirmed the remaining children at the emergency shelter had been placed elsewhere.

Two of the calls, for sex offenses involving a child, originated at the shelter’s main campus in the 2900 block of W. Woodlawn and include an investigation launched less than a week ago, records show.

Three of the calls, two of which were for sex offenses involving a child, originated at the shelter’s facility in the 4000 block of High Ridge Circle.

SAPD officers also responded to the High Ridge Circle complex on March 1 for a report of lewd conduct, but no report was generated and the department’s media services office did not receive preliminary information on it, SAPD officials said Tuesday.

Officials declined to release additional details on any of the sexual offenses, citing their “sensitive nature.”

A sign posted at the High Ridge Circle location stated that its intake center has been relocated to a DFPS office on Southeast Military Drive.

Through a spokeswoman, The Children’s Shelter President and CEO Annette Rodriguez declined to comment Tuesday.

The spokeswoman said Rodriguez would instead take part in a virtual news conference Wednesday morning.

Late last week, DFPS Director Jaime Masters informed Rodriguez that “unacceptable” conditions and an ongoing capacity problem at the emergency shelter contributed to the hold being put in place.

The shelter had until 5 p.m. Monday to place its remaining children in other homes.

A DFPS spokeswoman told the Defenders via email Tuesday the shelter was able to meet the deadline and find placements elsewhere.

Masters, in her April 22 letter to Rodriguez, wrote that DFPS could terminate its contract with the agency if improvements are not made.

In all, SAPD has received well over 200 emergency calls for service to the two locations since the start of February for incidents ranging from runaways to fights and assaults, records show.

$10,000 in damages

In a statement released Monday, Rodriguez said that Family Tapestry, the wing of the shelter that carries out its community-based care mission, has lost 475 treatment center beds over the past year, making it difficult to take in children who need help. The issue is not local to San Antonio, but a growing problem across the state, Rodriguez and other officials familiar with the foster care crisis have said.

“To provide a scale of the capacity crisis in our state, Texas has lost more than 1,000 residential treatment center beds for higher acuity youth in the past 12 months, of which 475 were lost under the Family Tapestry network,” Rodriguez wrote in her statement.

“Right now, we’re literally looking for places for our foster kids to sleep and to be safe and secure,” 225th District Court Judge Peter Sakai said this week.

Sakai, who oversees one of the county’s children’s courts, said state leaders need to get involved. Community-based care, which is essentially the privatization of the foster care system, continues to struggle in Texas.

Sources told the Defenders this week that Family Tapestry officials have compounded the issues by threatening to go after partnering foster agencies that do not accept children referred to them.

A contract obtained by the Defenders, which outlines Family Tapestry’s Short Term Emergency Placement Program, states that the program can recover up to $10,000 in damages each time a partnering agency rejects a “properly referred child.”

One source who runs a foster home said a fine of that magnitude would be devastating and described its inclusion in the contract as a bully tactic.

Rodriguez did not respond to questions about the contract Tuesday.

Sources said Family Tapestry began using it earlier this year, but they did not know if the agency had attempted to recoup any damages for rejected referrals.

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