Blue Ribbon Task Force Hard at Work on Community Driven Initiative

Senator Carlos Uresti took on the fight to stop child abuse in 2003 following the horrific death of four year old Jovonie Ochoa by his grandmother. Senator Uresti and community advocates knew they needed to do better by our children and therefore, in 2005, unified under the Blue Ribbon Task force (BRTF).

For twelve years, Senator Uresti and the BRTF have worked diligently to bring awareness to child abuse and neglect. Through outreach and collective messaging on reporting child abuse, calls to 211 and reports to the Department of Family and Protective Services have increased, and more families have connected to much needed services.  The community has become more comfortable discussing a difficult subject along with assisting others when reporting suspected child abuse (1-800-252-5400).

However, we continue to experience high rates of child deaths in Texas. In 2016, we lost 222 children due to abuse and neglect statewide, and in Bexar County, we lost 11 children.  Child Abuse is preventable and these numbers are unacceptable. These rates have caused the BRTF to take a closer look at the dynamics that lead to a child becoming a victim of abuse or neglect.

Through months of outreach, open forums, and a review of Bexar County’s child deaths, the BRTF found that if parents who are isolated and struggling with finances, domestic violence, and minimal emotional support have a trusted individual from their community to turn to as a mentor in a time of need, we may prevent a child from becoming the target of these stresses.

The BRTF is working to build partnerships with stakeholders who historically have not been involved in these efforts such as apartment complex managers, Chambers of Commerce, the San Antonio Housing Authority, and Universities. These entities are positioned to play an important role in promoting a mentoring initiative for young parents.

This past legislative session a total $343.7 million was approved to help better serve our children and families in Texas.  Key legislative items were passed to ensure services for our children are received immediately and treated as priority. However, despite these incredible efforts and tools put forth, child abuse cannot be stopped by ‘systems’ and ‘budgets’ alone. It requires the attention and participation of the local community.  Together, with the work of the legislature and your commitment to get involved, we can stop a child from hurting or perhaps even worse, dying.

Connecting young parents with knowledgeable community members shows real promise. We understand and know the real life challenges of family life and wish for families to know we are here to listen and help.  For additional information on how to get involved in this new initiative, please contact Senator Uresti’s San Antonio District Office at (210) 932-2568.

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