Rise in CPS child abuse, neglect reports

WICHITA COUNTY, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Child Protective Services North Region 2 reported an increase in child abuse/neglect reports since February.

A CPS evaluation showed it began after two Wichita Falls ISD principals were arrested, accused of failure to report incidents on their campuses.

In 2017, there were more than 300 reported cased filed in Wichita County between January and February.

During that same time span this year, there were 160 reports made in January and 279 reports made last month. The majority of counties in Texoma saw an increase as well.

Michelle Tyler, North Region 2 CPS Investigations Program Director, said has not seen an increase like this in the four years she has worked in Texoma but it is something to be expected after the arrests were reported.

"I believe that they become more vigilant in what they're looking at and so we're seeing an increase in cases we don't normally see," Tyler said.

She said the caseloads are still increasing this month according to unofficial numbers.

There are 17 CPS investigators for north Region 2 and three supervisors but she said they still needed help this year.

Each month, the average number of cases investigators work statewide in Texas is 10 to 12. Since February, she said the investigators in our area are working 16 to 17 cases a month. They have 30 days to complete an investigation and then 45 days to submit it and get it approved by their supervisor.

"We've brought in two master investigators to help with the caseloads and with that comes a supervisor," Tyler said.

Master investigators are tenured caseworkers who help offices that are short-staffed or need help with a big increase in caseloads.

Tyler said they will evaluate at the end of the month if they still need the help and expects the number of reports to level off. She said two investigators are finishing their training now.

"I think we will see an increase for sure that will remain the same but I don't think we will see the really big increase that we've seen over the last month," she said.

In the last two months, she said several school districts, nursing programs, and childcare development personnel have reached out for help in training to identify child abuse or neglect cases.

Last year, the second highest amount of reports of child abuse or neglect came from schools with more than 58,000 made statewide.

She also said the public has to do their part in reporting. There are several events where people can learn what to look out for during April National Child Abuse Awareness Month.

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