Eye-opening report aims to curb child abuse and neglect before it becomes a problem

A startling new report on child abuse in Texas has the agency tasked with protecting them calling the problem a public health issue in hopes of getting everyone to stand up and take notice.

The report shows that more than half of the child deaths between 2010 and 2012 had some involvement with Child Protective Services. The other half didn't. That means that there are children out there in danger that no one knows about.

Sasha Rasco is with the Department of Family and Protective Services. The agency tasked with protecting the unprotected is trying to get ahead of abuse and neglect here in Texas.

"This plan is all about prevention or what we call being upstream from the problem," she said.

The problem they found isn't just an issue with kids on Child Protective Services' radar. A new study shows in between 2010 - 2012 about half of the 786 children who died from abuse and neglect never crossed paths with CPS.

"Abuse and neglect is a broader problem that needs multi-partnered help. We need pediatricians, we need librarians, we need grocery store clerks, we need a congregation to wrap around children within them," she explained.

DFPS and the Department of State Health Services joined forces to look at birth and death records - as well demographics to highlight some of the major factors causing child fatalities

"Risk factors for a mom in a domestic violence situation look very similar to risk factors to having a child abuse or related death," she said.

The report revealed other alarming trends. It found six percent of hot car deaths were due to neglect; about eight percent are sleep related.

"It was something to see it on paper and mapped around the state so you can see different trends in different places to know how better to target your prevention strategies or risks," she said.

It's ammunition, she says, that will help create a solution well before it ever becomes a problem.

"Finding those moms when they are going to pre-natal visits, or the WIC clinic or maybe when they are giving birth and know which moms to target and which strategies work," she said.

The thirty-four page companion report from the agency takes a look at deaths on Child Protective Services' watch between 2010 and 2013. It shows Hispanic children are at the greatest risk with the most number of deaths: 322.

Over the coming days, FOX 7 will dig a little deeper into this eye-opening report and tell you about legislation that would force the agency to release more information about these deaths to prevent others from happening.