In Hopes that Northeast Side Children Get a Fair Shake in State Custody After Horrific Ordeal

A child plays next to a lake. - Flickr Creative Commons
Flickr Creative Commons
A child plays next to a lake.
The reports that surfaced last week of abused children left alone in Northeast Bexar County are grisly and disturbing.

A 3-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy were were found tethered in a backyard in the Camelot II subdivision. The boy had a dog chain tied around one ankle, while the girl, his sister, was tied to the garage with her wrists bound above her head, according to the San Antonio Express-News. The girl's right arm was fractured in two places.

Investigators believe that the children had been abused for weeks. Inside the house, law enforcement found six children unharmed, but alone in squalid conditions. Their mother, Porucha Denise Phillips, was taking care of the two children found outside. Phillips was charged with two felony counts of injury to a child by omission. The Express-News reported that the mother of the two children found outside, Cheryl Reed, was also taken into Bexar County custody this week, facing two felony counts of injury to a child. An arrest warrant has been issued for Deandre Dorch, Phillips' husband and the father of some of the children inside the house.

The abused children are currently in custody of Child Protective Services (CPS), a state agency under the Department of Family and Protective Services. A hearing will occur next week to determine if they'll stay there.

That presents another complication for children who've already endured an appalling ordeal. At the very least, these kids deserve to heal, receive the utmost care and compassion, and then get a fair shake. But given recent reports about the state of the CPS, one hopes that the agency can deliver.

Reports by the Dallas Morning News and the Houston Chronicle show that children are being abused, neglected and in some cases dying under the supposed watchful eye of the state. Case workers are desperately overworked, with higher caseloads than they can possibly handle.

Turnover in the agency is too high, and the number of foster homes is too low — so low, that sometimes children sleep on the floor of CPS offices.

CPS desperately needs more resources, and perhaps a complete audit of its operations. It has already failed too many children. Let's hope the kids found abused in Northeast Bexar County last week aren't added to that tally.
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