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Foster deaths prompt stricter policies for child care facilities

KTSM
News
Thursday, February 20, 2014 - 8:30pm

'The Child Crisis Center of El Paso' says there's been an increase in the number of child deaths in foster and group care in Texas.

Last year, the state reported 156 deaths at the hands of neglect and child abuse, and now the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is making efforts to change that.

DFPS is tightening rules for child care facilities by requiring employees and volunteers to get both criminal background checks and an FBI check by March 1st.

Texas Child Care Licensing (CCL) will also visit the facilities more often, at least twice a year, to make sure employee and staff paperwork is up-to-date and the facilities are following the new standards.

'The Child Crisis Center of El Paso' says the new rules put more pressure on their Human Resources Department to keep up with the required paperwork and policies, and also makes it more expensive for their organization because they're the ones who need to pay for the new employee background checks.

"These requirements are stressors on agencies like 'The Child Crisis Center of El Paso.' We are a non-profit organization and our budgets don't really allow for a lot of the cost increases that occur. However, I have to state that I am in agreement with the need to ensure that any staff member, any person who has direct care services of a child should be thoroughly checked to ensure that they are the right people to be interacting with children," said Al Velarde, the Executive Director of 'The Child Crisis Center of El Paso.'

Velarde also says they have noticed less people wanting to volunteer for the organization because the new rules on background checks applies to volunteers as well, who need to pay for the checks themselves.

DFPS is also trying to update their computer system so they can better spot "red flags" in their cases to help lower the number of child deaths.

For more information on the state's efforts to help reduce child deaths, visit http://www.ktsm.com/news/data-effort-aims-help-reduce-child-deaths

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