The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Editorial -Lack of CPS funding leads to disaster

Amanda+Boyd%2FThe+Collegian
Amanda Boyd/The Collegian

As the adage goes, children are the future. But currently in Texas, that future is being undermined.

Amanda Boyd/The Collegian
Amanda Boyd/The Collegian

A sobering example can be found in the March death of Leiliana Wright, a 4-year-old girl in Grand Prairie who was beaten to death by her mother and mother’s boyfriend while they were high on heroin.

It was reported that Child Protective Services had been in contact with Leiliana prior to the incident and ultimately were unable to save her life.

Since then, people have been speculating on whether more could have been done to save Leiliana’s life and whether the case workers assigned to the Wright family should be held responsible.

But in a way, Leiliana, children like her and CPS suffer from the same affliction, which is neglect.

The Waco Tribune-Herald reported the CPS investigator assigned to Leiliana’s case had 70 other cases at the time. The standard workload is 12. Stretched that thinly, it was only a matter of time before one or more of those cases fell through the cracks and unnecessarily cost lives.

Problems like this aren’t exclusive to Leiliana and are often prevalent throughout CPS and stem from multiple factors, such as sparse funding for the department, low salaries and high workloads for caseworkers, and high turnover rates.

According to a 2014 Texas Department of Family Protective Services report, one out of every six caseworkers quit within the first six months. The most common reason for leaving, according to caseworkers, is the low pay compared to the workload and hazards of the career.

These people are crucial in protecting those unable to protect themselves, and yet they are considerably undercompensated when compared to those in other professions, such as police officers, social workers and teachers. It only takes a very basic understanding of economics to know that compensation is a determining factor in the retention and quality of a workforce.

It is also worth mentioning how the staggering turnover rate affects those still employed by CPS. When caseworkers quit their jobs, often their cases get doled out to those left over, creating a higher workload. Then one can factor in the time it takes to train a new employee and fill in the vacancy, which can be anywhere from six to nine months. All the while, more turnover occurs.

Another Texas DFPS reported the 2013 turnover cost for CPS reached an estimated $72.6 million. Unfortunately, few state officials have called for an increase in funding for CPS. Instead, many look for cheap solutions that don’t directly raise the amount of funding for the department.

With this in mind, it would be unfair to reproach CPS caseworkers for negligence when, in actuality, they receive very little support from an underfunded agency and their own government.

Ultimately, it won’t be bureaucratic action that incites lasting change in the department. It will be community organizations such as TexProtects, a commission that actively looks to change the way CPS operates by setting caseload standards, doing away with outdated and redundant paperwork and proposing a new compensation system that incorporates cost-of-living differentials and market-based comparable pay.

We as a community will continue to be complicit in the deaths of children such as Leiliana’s unless we take direct action to reform and properly fund the services that protect our most innocent and juvenile citizens.

Donate to The Collegian

Your donation will support the student journalists of Tarrant County College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Collegian