For the Children
I AM A CASEWORKER WITH CHILD Protective Services in Dallas. Yours was the first article I have seen that honestly described the work we do [“No One Knows What Could Be Happening to Those Kids,” April 1999]. Our days are endless and many of our nights are sleepless because of our line of work. I, like many of my co-workers, have chosen this field because I care about the children I work with. I have been with the agency for five years, and I am considered an old-timer. I have thought of quitting many times, but I always end up saying, “I’ll quit once I know this child is safe.” Then there is always another child I feel I need to help. I would be happy if I was laid off because of lack of work; this would be a victory for everyone in Texas.
CPS Specialist III
I HAVE LIVED IN AUSTIN FOR EIGHT years and have done volunteer work with children at the Shelter for Battered Women, yet I had no idea that child abuse in Texas (especially in Austin) had reached such epidemic proportions. When I first began reading Mr. Hollandsworth’s story, I was angry and for a moment considered becoming a social worker myself and devoting my life to saving kids—and then I read on. By page eight I knew that I did not have what it takes. I have a new respect for the people who work for CPS.
TEXAS LEGISLATORS DON’T WAKE up at night worried about whether a child will die because of their busy schedule. And it might seem that they have no reason to question their own responsibility when children referred to CPS die. But they should.
I propose that each legislator be assigned a CPS caseworker’s responsibilities for one week. Each legislator should be contacted by phone or pager every time a CPS office or on-call worker in the counties he or she represents receives an emergency report. If, after that experience, legislators do not understand the need for significantly greater CPS funding, they probably shouldn’t be making legislative decisions of any kind.
Mary M. Elizabeth
WHAT’S SO UNNERVING ABOUT Mr. Hollandsworth’s story is that the problems have existed for so long and that the circumstances seem to surface only when children die. The lives of these children seem hopelessly enmeshed in red tape and in an appalling fear of the issue. I believe that the fear is based on past cases gone wrong and controversies involving false accusations and a parent’s right to exercise discipline. No one “medicine” will solve the problem. It has many, many dimensions.
Sandra A. Martin
Travis County Children’s Advocacy Center
SKIP HOLLANDSWORTH BEAUTIFULLY told the story of the life of a child abuse investigator. But I disagree about one thing.
Governor Bush has called for a minimum of 380 new Child Protective Service caseworkers, primarily investigators. Mr. Hollandsworth says that these “new caseworkers would have no noticeable effect whatsoever on the safety of the state’s children.” What you notice, however, depends on where you’re standing. If the Seventy-sixth Legislature funds the governor’s proposed budget, then thousands of children across the state who would otherwise have gone unhelped will be rescued from abuse and neglect. Those children will most certainly notice what the governor and the Legislature ultimately do.
Mr. Hollandsworth is right that even with 380 new caseworkers Texas will still be struggling against child abuse. But Texas did not get into its present situation in one biennium and will not get out of it in one biennium. Governor Bush has called for a significant step forward. Those responsible for dealing with child abuse are grateful.
F. Scott Mccown
Judge, 345th District Court
THE GOLDEN-CHEEKED WARBLER [“Wing Tips,” April 1999] is not the dad of the chick begging to be fed. The chick is a cowbird, probably brown-headed, which was hatched from an egg laid in the warbler’s nest by a female cowbird. This species practices nest parasitism, yet another threat to the warbler’s survival.
WHILE THE LYNCHING OF Jesse Washington was a horrifying event, I cannot agree with Lawrence Johnson or Pat Davis, who believe these types of crimes need to be resurrected and supposedly rectified [Texas Monthly Reporter: “Past, Tense,” April 1999]. This sets a dangerous precedent: How far back in time do we go? The “infection” that remains stays there because some black leaders will not let go of the past and seem to want to keep the racial pot boiling. Racial healing cannot take place if present-day people are held accountable for deeds done by someone else in a different day and time.
why talk about such things as the Waco lynching? Why produce such wounds? Fuel new anger? Because it will promote healing. America’s racial past is like a death, not only of lynching victims, but of trust and reliance between the races. Death is followed by the four stages of grieving—denial, anger, sorrow, and healing. Mourners must come to terms with reality to move on. Many in our nation are still in denial or anger. Archbishop Desmond Tutu said of his nation’s racial past, “It is not enough to say, ‘let bygones be bygones.’ Indeed, just saying that ensures it will not be so.…we need to remember what we endured.…We aim to remember, to forgive, and to go on, with full recognition of how fragile the threads of community are.”
THE BRIDGE,” by gregory curtis, touches directly upon what makes the University of Houston one of our state’s true treasures [Behind the Lines, April 1999]. As Texas’ population becomes more ethnically diverse and the economy becomes more global, U of H stands out as the Texas university that best reﬂects these realities. I am one of those many first-generation college graduates who had to work his way through the university. Today I am the president of a private company whose family owners have its recruiting pipeline solidly ﬂanged to U of H. They tell me they find its graduates more mature, more realistic, and harder working than those students who emerge from a more “silver spoon” educational experience.
MY STEPDAD? WELDER-TRUCKER. MOM? Phone company clerk. College for me? SMU? Texas? A&M? TCU? Fraternity? Car? At $10,000 to $15,000 a year? Forget it! Trade school, or worse—that was my future until a relative pointed me to the University of Houston. Like most of my fellow Cougars in the sixties, I needed seven years of full-time, part-time, night classes, and summer school, but I thank God and the Cullen family every day for the experience.