Outcome: Children and youth are physically healthy


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number of confirmed investigations of child abuse or neglect


Significance of this indicator: Abuse and neglect endanger the physical health, social and emotional well-being, academic performance, and the very life of children. The consequences to society are enormous.  


How we are doing on this indicator: The two graphs below show a decrease in the number of children abused or neglected in Travis County, as well as the State of Texas.


what the data tell us



Definition:  The number of confirmed investigations of child abuse and neglect.

Data SourceTexas Department of Family and Protective Services, 2010



Definition:  The number of confirmed investigations of child abuse and neglect.

Data SourceTexas Department of Family and Protective Services, 2010      



The Story Behind the indicator


There has been a downward trend in the number of confirmed victims of abuse and neglect in the state as well as Travis County. The effect is important for our children and society at large. Prevention programs and funding for Child Protective Services staff are crucial elements to the decline of childhood abuse and neglect.


Some local efforts to improve this indicator

  • Strengthening Child Safety

Child safety remains the priority for Texas as CPS continues to build and reinforce a family focused, community based approach to the provision of services. To further strengthen the safety of children, CPS initiated the Enhanced Family Centered Safety Decision Making project. CPS has been consulting with the National Resource Center for Child Protection in the development of a family centered safety decision making protocol to be used in all stages of service.  This work builds on and expands the risk and safety model already in use in CPS investigations in Texas.


The goal of the Enhanced Family Centered Safety Decision Making project is to support staff in making sound safety decisions for children in all stages of service. This is a multi-year continuous quality improvement initiative that helps staff:

    • better identify when children are safe vs. unsafe;
    • better understand the family changes that must occur to keep children safe, resulting in improved matching of appropriate services to children and families;
    • have an improved understanding of safety as it relates to permanency; and function in a culture that supports family centered values.
  • Citizen Review Teams

Citizen review teams are volunteer citizen-based panels established by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to evaluate department casework and decision-making related to services to children and families who experience child abuse/neglect. Membership includes community representatives and private citizens residing in the area for which the team is established.  Teams meet regularly to review investigations and ongoing intervention conducted by CPS caseworkers. The reports that the teams compile are used by DFPS to improve services and casework practice, and to provide accountability for federal funding.

The purpose of each review is to:

    • evaluate the adequacy of the investigation/intervention;
    • help identify barriers to the protection of children;
    • assess compliance with program policy;
    • identify staff needs in the areas of training, supervision, and program management; and
    • provide opportunities for citizens to play an integral role in ensuring that CPS in Texas is meeting its goals of protecting children from abuse and neglect.


The reports issued by the Citizen Review teams do not contain case-specific information. But they do provide DFPS with recommended actions designed to improve how the agency serves children and families. In an effort to expand citizen input regarding DFPS services and to comply with new federal regulations regarding public input, the Citizen Review Team recommendations that have statewide impact are placed on the DFPS website.

  • Child Fatality Review Teams (CFRTs)


CFRTs are multidisciplinary, multiagency working groups that review child deaths on a local level from a public health perspective. By reviewing circumstances surrounding child deaths, teams identify prevention strategies that will decrease the incidence of preventable child deaths by:

    • Providing assistance, direction, and coordination to investigations of child deaths;
    • Promoting cooperation, communication, and coordination among agencies involved in responding to child fatalities;
    • Developing an understanding of the causes and incidence of child deaths in the county or counties in which the team is located;
    • Recommending changes to agencies, through the agency's representative member, that will reduce the number of preventable child deaths; and
    • Advising the State Committee on changes to law, policy, or practice that will assist the team and the agencies represented on the team in fulfilling their duties.


Members include law enforcement, prosecutors, medical examiners, justices of the peace, health-care professionals, educators and child advocates. These teams are uniquely qualified to understand what no single agency or group working alone can:  how and why children are dying in their communities. By sharing information, team members discover the circumstances surrounding a child’s death. In 1992, DFPS began its support of Child Fatality Review Teams through a grant from the Children’s Justice Act.  That same year, the state’s first team was formed in Dallas.


DFPS and the Department of State Health Services cooperate to support the local and state teams, to gather and publish statistics gathered from local teams, and to publish an annual report to the Legislature regarding the activities of the state and local teams.


Senate Bill 6 amended Section 264.503 of the Texas Family Code, moving responsibility for the support and coordination of Child Fatality Review Teams and the State Child Fatality Review Team from DFPS to Department of State Health Services.


  • Safe Sleep Community Training Curriculum

The Department of Family and Protective services and the Department of State Health services have joined efforts to create a Safe Sleep Community Training Curriculum which highlights best practices for infant safe sleep.  This new resources was designed for anyone who works with parents, grandparents or caregivers of infants.  Its goal is to help service providers and others talk to parents in any setting (whether classroom or one on one) about all of the issues that pertain to providing baby with a safe sleeping environment.  The manual is formatted in a train-the-trainer style with frequently asked questions about the topic, tips about presenting information to parents and caregivers and parent handouts



A Closer look at the story behind the indicators

The following individuals/organizations contributed to the development of this indicator.

  • Contributors
Workforce Solutions - Capital Area United Way Capital Area (UWCA) Community Action Network