4

Cover Story: Did CPS Reform Create Even More Problems?

^
Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Rafael Sierra and his girlfriend Maria Martinez knew about hard times. They had met in Seguin after fleeing Houston and Hurricane Rita. When they returned to the city, there were nights they slept in Rafael's car when they couldn't find a friend or relative to crash with.

Nearly two years later, while Maria was pregnant with their second son, things had gotten better. Rafael had a steady job and the couple had a modest home in a trailer court not far from his work. Then, Child Protective Services got involved.

Maria and Rafael thought they were good parents and were angry that CPS had interfered in their lives. The agency had built a strong case, but Maria and Rafael were confident they would have their children back in no time.

We decided to follow the case as Maria and Rafael fought to get back their kids.

We also looked at CPS. Two years ago, state officials spent about $250 million on CPS reform. In September, the agency released a progress report painting a pretty picture of "tremendous improvement." That's not the picture we saw.

The system actually stacked the deck against itself. Caseworkers are overworked and quitting in droves. CPS takes on more cases than it can handle, with children in state custody staying nights on cots and in cribs at an office in Houston. And children in Texas still die at a rate that almost doubles the national average.

While Maria and Rafael prepared to do almost anything to get back their kids, the agency that guarded their fate was spinning out of control. Read more about it in "Falling Apart" in this week's Houston Press. – Paul Knight

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.