Upper-level managers of the state agency charged with caring for at-risk children created a “self-inflicted culture” that compromises child safety, according to a blistering review released Wednesday.
“A punitive culture breeds crisis; however, much of the crisis facing Dallas County is self-inflicted,” the report said, faulting a “lack of trust, lack of teamwork and poor communication.”
The review, released Wednesday, focused on Child Protective Services in Dallas County.
“It is concerning that upper management is not taking ownership of the situation,” the report said. “There is a sense of displaced ownership of the situation.”
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It was written by The Center for Policy, Innovation, and Program Coordination, which, like CPS, is part of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
Investigators interviewed 175 employees as part of the review.
“This culture has created a work environment that compromises child safety when there are not enough qualified employees to carry out the work,” the report said.
The review also found that problems have existed since at least 2011.
“The findings indicate Dallas County is facing serious problems,” it said. “More should have been done sooner.”
“There has been a downward spiral in Dallas County of negative culture, employee flight, increased workload, increased stress and negativity – all with no apparent urgency on the part of upper management,” it continued.
State Rep. Cindy Burkett (R-Dist. 113), of Dallas, said she is hopeful that new leadership recently put in place will fix the issues.
“The issues detailed in this report are unacceptable,” she said. “However, after numerous conversations with DFPS and CPS, I am hopeful that our new leadership understands the severity of the problem.”
CPS spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales acknowledged serious past problems but said the agency is working to fix them.
“I think (the report) points out a lot of issues," she said. "It points out they were a long time in coming. I think it definitely shows that there were problems that needed to be addressed. And CPS has worked really hard to turn the page on that.”
She noted the CPS's former top manager in Dallas County was recently reassigned, and the agency also has a new regional director.