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CPS Gets Major Overhaul

By: Lindsay Liepman
By: Lindsay Liepman

The state's about to undertake a major overhaul of Child Protective Services.

The legislature passed a landmark multi million dollar reform bill, but is it enough?

And what does it mean for our area?

$248.1 million is lawmakers way of fixing the problems in the system -- problems of overloaded case workers and children that are falling through the cracks.

"They've passed a bill, now the real issue is how the funds are going to be used," said Margaret Lalk.

Lalk has spent 23 years in the District Attorney's office and currently represents CPS in cases where children are removed from the home.

Overall she says the system's improved in Brazos County.

But...there are still not enough case workers, a shortage of foster and adoptive parents, too much paperwork and limited services for children with severe emotional needs.

"The concerns of the case workers, the people on the street, are that the funding is going to go toward administration and privitization and more layers of paperwork instead of going to getting more case workers and lower the case loads," said Lalk.

According to the plan 2500 new case workers will be hired, eventually reducing casework by 40 percent.

Which is the building block to opening up more time with families and children.

"This is a significant change and a significant improvement are on the way -- they won't happen overnight. It's going to take at least two years to really fully implement a lot of this stuff," said Darrell Azar with Family and Protective Services.

No one thinks the money will be a fix all, it's just a good first step, but is it enough?

"The reality is children are vunerable and they get badly hurt by the people who are supposed to be taking care of them. At some point the government, society has to step in and that's going to always be so. It has to be funded on a level where you have professionally trained people dong that work," said Lalk.

Whether this plan will be able to deliver, is still in question.

Brazos County CPS could find out as soon as August which increases it can expect.


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