State District Judge Peter Sakai increased adoption of foster children in Bexar County by 1000 percent from 1995 to 2005. He is proposing a new pilot program to reduce the amount of time it takes a child abuse case to reach a resolution.
A family court judge is asking Bexar County to help fund a pilot program that would streamline cases in the family courts. Judge Peter Sakai hopes to add two court managers and other elements to the program that will help connect the dots with other parts of the legal system.
The child abuse and neglect court in Bexar County accounts for $3.5 million a year in fees for court-appointed attorneys.
"And our system is second only to the total felony courts," Sakai said.
Child advocacy group ChildSafe reports that in 2013 Bexar County had 5,846 confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect.
ChildSafe CEO Kim Abernethy said the county dropped from the first place position in that category, but knows that number is still too high.
"That's not a statistic that we tout when we tout all of our other great statistics," Abernethy said. "This year we were second in the state, thank goodness, but the last four or five years before that we've been the first in confirmed cases of abuse."
The two-foot-tall cardboard cutouts look a lot sillier than the children each cardboard "kid" represents. ChildSafe and the Children's Hospital of San Antonio are trying to raise awareness about high numbers of abused and neglected children in Bexar County through a new campaign called "Cardboard Kids."
Last year in Bexar County 5,846 kids were abused or neglected. We have the second highest rates of abuse in the state. Houston's Harris County ranks first, but Bexar only has 83 fewer total incidents with a child population half that of Harris.
In addition, kids in Bexar County are more often abused even after Child Protective Services gets involved.
In 11 years the number of children living in poverty has risen, outpacing the number of children born, or moving into the state, says a new report from the Texas-based Center for Public Policy Priorities, a left-leaning research and advocacy group.
What is the state doing to abate this tide of poverty? How does the situation look on the ground here in Bexar County?
Bexar County's only child advocacy center, ChildSafe, has announced a realignment to serve more children, but there are some challenges in the move.
For 23 years, ChildSafe has served child victims of sexual abuse, but the now it's expanding to provide services for children of physical abuse and neglect. The organization is one of the last advocacy centers in Texas to expand to this role.
President Kim Abernethy said she thinks that is because the center started with a major focus on sexual abuse.