CPS training courses being administered throughout the state to improve the agency

An overhaul of Child Protective Services is underway.

The top-to-bottom reviews of the agency, both internally and externally, called for sweeping changes.

Most of them highlight the need for better training their work force so workers can better protect kids.

In recent months CPS has come under fire as to how they go about protecting kids. Months before Colton Turner's death, the agency started looking at the way they do business including how they evaluate kids' safety. They hope a new training program will help to ensure no child slips through the cracks again.

"You don't know what you are going to walk into. You are knocking on a stranger's door, you don't know who's in there," said Breann Burleson, a CPS casework in Travis County.

Like many of her colleagues, Burleson has been bogged down by paperwork, red tape, and more cases than she can handle.

"There are so many deadlines and reminders and time frames about what may be late or what may be due," she explained.

CPS is trying to change that with new policies and procedures including the way they evaluate cases that land on their desks.

"We are doing some things to improve our practice to improve the way we evaluate child safety, to improve the services that we provide to children and families," said Matthew Gilbert, a CPS Program Administrator in Waco.

The two-day course is called Safety Assessment. It's going on through March across the state. Investigators are learning how to be thorough but more efficient so they can focus on the highest-priority kids

"We can't control what cases get called in and what info but once we gather the info we can say there's no abuse and can shut them down a lot quicker than we've been able," said Sandra Lox, a CPS Supervisor in Bastrop County.

"It was great to see that the department come up with a plan to improve caseworker retention and to better train caseworkers," said Ashley Harris, a child welfare policy associate at Texans Care for Children.

Harris is a former CPS case-worker. Now with Texans Care for Children she pushes for legislative change to better protect kids. She says the overhaul was much needed but there needs to be more financial support for caseworkers.

"All of those findings should push the legislature to say we need to invest in the CPS workforce to be a healthy workforce and a well trained work force that stays there," Harris said.

A work force that is skeptical but hopeful that the agency is making strides in the fight to help kids in danger.

Right now caseworkers have seven days after their first contact with the family to document their safety assessment. Part of the new program includes reducing that time to 24 hours. Once investigators are trained, the agency will roll out this training program out to the rest of their staff like foster care workers.

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