Critical Change for CPS is needed

-Opinion-

There are very powerful (and very true) statements always being made when it comes to children. “They are our future.” “We must empower them to make this world a better place.” “ The children of today are the leaders of tomorrow.” I can go on, and on, but I think you get what I am saying. These statements should not be words that come out of our mouths and left at the wayside when it is time for action.

There was a recent article written in dallasnews.com talking about a very big and extremely dangerous problem happening right here in our backyard in Houston. I am sure it is not news to anyone that Child Protective Services (CPS) has been under the fire recently because an outrageous number of children, that are at high risk of abuse and neglect, have not been visited for 90 or even 120 days.

Our first reaction can be to blame the workers. It is their responsibility to make sure these children are safe and away from harm. The truth of the matter is that there is no way we can possibly put all of the blame on the CPS investigators. Although most workers lack the required experience for the kind of cases they take on, they are by no means incompetent. These people are overloaded with cases and are paid very little to compensate for the load. According to glassdoor.com (take these numbers with a grain of salt), the annual salary of an entry-level investigator is right around $35,000 and it varies very little for more experienced positions, that is if they stay long enough for a more experienced position. How can anyone stay motivated when they are underpaid and overworked?

A 2013 audit report shows that it is very clear that there has been an ongoing struggle to keeping their employees. As a business major in undergrad, I cannot ignore the fact that the turnover is so high. It is very easily explained, though. No matter how much you may get warm fuzzy feelings from your work (helping kids in dire need in this case), if you do not get fairly compensated, have good support from your co-workers and higher ups, and have reasonable expectations, then you will never stay in your job. The answer is to give the existing CPS workers incentive to stay. This means higher salaries, fair workload, and resources and training that matches the work expectations.

I am aware that we cannot just magically come up with some sum of money and resources and everything will be ok. That is unfortunately not how life works. However, we simply cannot stay silent about the appalling state that the CPS program is currently in. It is an issue that needs to be addressed by our leaders and no longer ignored. Remember, these children ARE our future. They ARE the next innovators and leaders of this nation, and of this world. If we stay silent today, then there will be no tomorrow.

Caroline Ibrahim

About Caroline Ibrahim

Caroline is a second year law student at the University of Houston Law Center. Caroline received her BBA from Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston in 2015. As an undergraduate student she taught Junior Achievement as well as helped create a business plan for Genysis works, a non-profit that helps secure internships for underprivileged high schoolers. She does extensive volunteer work with many organizations including Krause Kids, The Ronald McDonald House. She is currently an active mentor with the JCAP program at UHLC. Caroline worked at Neighborhood Centers this past summer focusing on Immigration Law.

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