July 9, 2020
State Rep. Ina Minjarez (D - San Antonio) wants to speak with monitors to see how they think lawmakers can help make the system better.
“It’s very disheartening,” she describes the more than 300-page report. “And it’s bringing to light deficiencies that I don’t think, as a lawmaker, I would know about.”
She says the most disturbing finding: far too many homes, shelters and centers where children are placed are not living up to their promises.
“I can’t have children keep being placed in these placements and possibly be in danger,” State Rep. Minjarez says.
Three deaths this year are highlighted in the report.
"There’s no accountability. It’s unconscionable to have children in care die,” State Rep. Minjarez says.
In February, a 14-year-old girl collapsed and died inside a residential treatment center. Staff waited 37 minutes to call 911 because they thought they needed permission.
In April, a 3-year-old boy died after being found unconscious with blood coming out of his ear. The report details how hotlines calls sparked two abuse investigations into his foster caregivers but Child Protective Services workers did not remove the boy from the home.
Later in April, a 15-year-old girl hanged herself in the bathroom of an emergency shelter. Because of her mental health history, she was supposed to be monitored at all times. But security video showed it took staff 30 minutes to find her.
“We are fully responsible if something happens to a child in our care. This is a situation that we can’t be silent on. This needs to be a priority,” State Rep. Minjarez says.
The report also found thousands of calls to the state’s abuse hotline go unanswered.
“Is that acceptable?” reporter Emily Baucum asks.
“Not acceptable at all,” State Rep. Minjarez answers. “So we’ve got to figure out what is going on here. Is there a lack of people who are available in the position to answer these calls? Ignoring possible reports of possible neglect and abuse is just unacceptable.”