Abuse prevention before it is too late

Child Protective Services has filed to remove the three-year old child who was inside a home when her step-sister was allegedly beaten over potty training issues. CPS had taken the child out of the home when the incident allegedly happened on July 9. The papers filed on Friday would take the child out of her parent's custody.

The man allegedly responsible is twenty-seven year-old Bryant Keith Davis. Court papers from his arrest show the twenty-month old was taken to Dell's Children's Medical Center in Cardiac Arrest on July 9, she was then placed in ICU. Some of her injuries included sixteen rib fractures, a right scalp hematoma, a missing front tooth, and laceration of the spleen. The Lone Star Fugitive Task Force arrested Davis on Tuesday. She was still listed in critical condition when the arrest warrant was signed on Tuesday (Dell Children's Medical Center could not give an update on her condition as the investigation is still ongoing). The Lone Star Fugitive Task Force took Davis into custody late Tuesday afternoon. He is being charged with "Injury to A Child" and is being held on a $500,000 bond. As of Friday, he remained in The Travis County Jail.

"It's heartbreaking any time a child is injured, that's a devastating occurrence," says Andy Miller, President and C.E.O. of Austin's Any Baby Can. The non-profit offers free parenting classes and one-on-one support to families at risk. "The first step is there's no shame in reaching out for help if you feel overwhelmed as a parent," he says of the stigma that can overshadow parents in need. "We can help teach you the skills and attitude you would need to develop in order to be a nurturing positive parenting," he adds.

They've worked with two thousand parents so far this year, ninety percent of whom, he says have maintained or improved their skills because of the program. "They are evidenced based programs. We do pre and post tests on them," Miller says of their model.

Miller says parents who come to them, find them through an internet search or a referral. A third are sent by Child Protective Services or Family Court. "When you add on to that the stress that comes with living in poverty, being under a lot of stress, maybe due to other factors in your life, it can make parenting even harder."

CPS data shows for fiscal year 2015 (from September 2014-now) there have already been nearly twenty-one hundred confirmed cases of abuse or neglect in Travis County alone. That averages out to about ten a day. The agency tells Fox 7, Bryant Keith Davis wasn't on their radar before he allegedly beat the twenty-month old. The goal, says Miller is to reach parents, like Davis, before it's too late. "What were hoping to do is really provide the community with the resources and support they need to let parents acknowledge the fact that parenting is hard. There are resources and support out there for you, you don't have to do it alone."

You can sign up for free Any Baby Can classes or sign up to volunteer to help with classes.

Any Baby Can is funded through various organizations, including Project HOPES. The state funded non-profit targets at risk families with evidence based programs for early prevention and education. A statement from the organization describes its work, by saying, "Through HOPES we are able to teach successful parenting skills to struggling families free of charge. Services are provided by parent specialists to help parents set limits on child behavior, develop schedules that help lower family stress, communicate expectations, and encourage your child’s development at home."  Austin Children’s Services, and SafePlace are also participants in Project HOPES.