AUSTIN (KXAN) — Three Austin-area fathers are in jail, all accused of violently hurting their children. Raymundo Silva-Salas is accused of shaking his 2-year-old to the point of causing his death.
Dilon Nelson is accused of dropping his 8-week-old baby while drunk. And Alejandro Gonzalez is accused of hitting his 2-year-old son, who has cerebral palsy. Experts in the child welfare field say this can all be prevented.
“Ultimately, we’re just not putting the dollars where they need to go,” Will Francis, governmental relations director for the National Association of Social Workers Texas says. Francis has years of experience in the child welfare area and is a former CPS caseworker.
During his time with CPS, Francis saw cases like Silva-Salas’.
“If you have someone who is already stressed out, who is already suffering from some other issues and who is at maybe at the end of the road per se, they can often do something which can be horrific,” Francis said. “They don’t know what it really means to deal with a child who is in a challenging situation.”
He says the answer to the problem is in preventing the crisis.
“You have to wonder, was there a time where dad could’ve been given resources? Was there a time where that dad could’ve been given anger management? Was there something else that could’ve been extended before that dad reached that point?” Francis says.
This year the legislature is overhauling CPS including more dollars to increase case workers’ salaries and hiring more people to reduce their case loads, but Francis wonders, is it enough?
“I truly believe that every single child death in Texas that’s related to CPS can be prevented,” Francis said. “We can actually eradicate some of the major need for child welfare in Texas, if we just put dollars in to the prevention side of things.”
On Wendesday at 10 a.m., Governor Greg Abbott is expected to sign into law four bills meant to reform the state’s child welfare system. According to the Governor’s Office, CPS will “be able to place more children with relatives, have greater flexibility to address oncoming issues and move towards a community-based system.”