HHSC Highlights Child Abuse Prevention and Support Services

Child Abuse Prevention Month is an opportunity to highlight the efforts made by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to protect children in the Lone Star State.

Rob Ries, deputy executive commissioner of the HHSC Family Health Services division, said protecting kids is “our most sacred duty.”

“Family Health Services assists Texas families in building healthy foundations where children can thrive,” he said. “Where children have been harmed, we also work to get them to safety so the healing can begin.”

Several HHSC programs provide funding and services to support children and families who are facing violence, abuse or neglect.

The Child Advocacy Program administers funding for the two biggest child advocacy organizations in the state: Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) of Texas. CASA programs throughout Texas provide advocacy services for children 17 and younger in the protective custody of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).

CAC programs facilitate the investigation and prosecution of child sexual and physical abuse cases through a multidisciplinary approach and provide critical support and aftercare services to children and their families.

The Family Violence Program (FVP) works through a network of service providers who understand trauma. These providers offer emergency shelter and supportive services to survivors and their children, protecting them from further harm. FVP also works to prevent child abuse by educating the public, providing training and offering prevention support to organizations across Texas.

The Thriving Texas Families (TTF) program (formerly Alternatives to Abortion) provides vital educational opportunities to its clients. TTF providers offer a wide array of classes to support women and families in preventing, recognizing and responding to child abuse and neglect.

Preventing child abuse is one of the positive outcomes of the Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) program, which supports families with children from birth up to 36 months who have a developmental delay or disability. Children with disabilities and delays are often at a higher risk of abuse and neglect. To help reduce this risk, the ECI coaching model supports development of a positive parent-child relationship, and some families receive targeted therapy.

Looking Ahead

Beginning Sept. 1, 2024, FHS will welcome a host of new programs that are geared toward child abuse prevention and intervention.

As mandated by Senate Bill 24, 88th Legislature, Regular Session, the Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) division will move from DFPS to HHSC. PEI administers eight programs, all of which are focused on promoting positive outcomes for children, youth and families. The division creates thriving communities that together mitigate the risk factors that lead to child abuse and neglect.