Recent Town Hall Meeting Addresses Disproportionality

Recent Town Hall Meeting Addresses Disproportionality

By Frances Gonzalez-Boyd

 

 

 

Every minute somewhere children are being removed from their families. It is Child Protective Services job to intervene with an investigation when an emergency call is made to the system about a child. However, they sometimes end up in the system with a long, painful, and traumatic road ahead because of false reports. Action has finally started to take place to improve CPS, but it will not happen overnight. In Abilene, it all started with a few concerned community leaders who initiated the local Child Protective “Disproportionality” for Taylor County. The mission of the organization is to address the disparities and accomplish long term goals to change an overdue archaic legislation of laws in reference to CPS.{{more}} It is currently a statewide effort that is separated into different regions in Texas and reaching out to all communities. Child Protective Services is connected with local volunteers in each community who have been elected as officers to help run each region’s group reaching out to citizens urging them to get involved.A recent Town Hall meeting at Clack Middle School increased the attendance of the local group that meets every month. City of Abilene Accounting Manager and Region2-9 Committee Chair for “Disproportionality,” Odis Dolton explains what the meeting entailed. “The purpose of the meeting was to inform a community within a zip code, and talk to them about “Disproportionality.”It was also to inform a broader community and leaders in the city and hopefully develop training opportunities to deliver the” undoing racism model” while continuing to work with individual families who are involved with CPS and the system. We are also working on encouraging the various schools and universities to consider taking on the model.” Dolton said. Dolton’s position as Chair entails facilitating business within Taylor County. “We will support and help establish other such counties around Region 2-9.” Dolton also shares what is next on the agenda. “There will be a planned meeting with University Presidents. Joyce James, Austin Disproportionality Chair is going to invite local University leadership to attend the University Partners Round Table in Austin which is on August 3rd from 10-3pm at the Health & Human Services at 4900 N. Lamar.” James also shared information to individuals present at the meeting and answered questions.Sharon Owens is the CPS local Region 2-9 Disproportionality Specialist. She stated, “We make sure that we provide equitable services to all parties involved. We worked with the community people on the advisory council. I consider them to be a bridge between the community and CPS. “During the town hall meeting factual information was shown helping citizens that were present see the numbers of African American and Hispanic children compared to White children in the system. It was found, according to CPS, that a child of color is 3 times more likely to stay in the system, and that institutionalized racism is embedded in the system so white always do better in percentage of rate.It was also shared at the meeting that some Judges came to realize that the CPS cases that were presented in their courts were more African American and Hispanic children. In question, they became concerned with the numbers. That answer has become obvious with the disparities that have been exposed through the continued investigation since Governor Rick Perry took the initiative to explore CPS more in depth a few years ago. The long list of inconsistencies of the agency after the investigation pertained to all children in the system, and has acknowledged the fact that the disparities have been exposed out of the archaic system. It was mentioned during the discussion at the town hall meeting that there have been demonstrations in Houston at the courthouse in reference to African American children. Activists groups have formed to help save the children from getting sucked into the “hell hole of injustice.” This is not an issue of debate or argument, but a crucial case of the life of a child that deserves to live out the stages of life with their biological parents if, the call was false and motivated through revenge. The overall goal of “Disproportionality” is to increase community awareness and increase the number of citizens to act by getting concerned and involved with the group. In turn the positive changes will begin to transpire.