Combating Child Abuse: States Take Action
By Teresa Wiltz
Spurred by high-profile cases of endangered children and chronically overworked caseworkers, many states have taken steps this year to shield children from abuse and neglect, including adding caseworkers, tightening reporting requirements and expanding the definition of “abuse.”
Some states and cities are pouring more money into child protection agencies. In Texas, where the foster care system was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge in 2015, lawmakers allocated $4 billion this year, up 17 percent from the previous budget, to shore up the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services, including hiring more caseworkers.
In Florida, Tampa child welfare agencies got an additional $4 million in state funding to hire more social workers. And in New Mexico, following the rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl last year, officials in Albuquerque and Bernalillo counties tripled the funding they’d earmarked for a new child-abuse intervention program for at-risk families, to $3 million a year.