Our Community Commitment

District Attorney, ‘Nico’ LaHood’s Commitment on Child Abuse

lahoodNewly elected Bexar County Criminal District Attorney, Nico LaHood is staying true to his promise to stop child abuse in our county with the creation of the Child Abuse Unit. The Child Abuse Unit is made up of 18 dedicated prosecutors who fight to seek justice for children who have been abused and neglected. A Child Abuse Unit prosecutor, investigator and advocate are assigned to each of the ten District Courts.  In 2015, this unit sent a strong message to those who hurt children by securing convictions and long term prison sentences. His message is clear…. “Children are a gift from God and it’s our obligation to protect them,” said Bexar County Criminal District Attorney Nico LaHood. “Our Office created the Child Abuse Unit for this reason. We have more than a dozen dedicated prosecutors who fight to seek justice for children who have been abused and neglected. We will continue to aggressively prosecute those who would dare harm our children.” Bexar County Criminal District Attorney, ‘Nico’ LaHood.

For more information on the Child Abuse Unit and convictions, please click http://www.bexar.org/1879/Child-Abuse-Unit-Civil-Child-AbuseNeglec

Judge Peter Sakai’s Children’s Court Redesign Initiative

sakai-formal“Bexar County leads the State of Texas in the rate of removal of children in child abuse and neglect cases and in the rate of re-victimization of children who have been previously removed by Child Protective Services (CPS) and returned to their families.

These dubious distinctions sounded an alarm to the child advocates and the court system that is statutorily charged to protect children. With communication and collaboration among all the stakeholders in our community, we created and implemented the Bexar County Children’s Court Redesign in the fall of 2014.

The vision of this project was to create and promote a more effective and efficient child welfare system to better protect children and empower families by focusing on the court system. We identified that CPS was perpetually plagued with high caseworker turnover – 40 percent — and that caused failure of communication and service delivery to the families most in need. With data and metrics, we also identified that our court system was overwhelmed with case filings and many protracted and unnecessary court hearings. We decided that two positions would be filled with tenured and experienced CPS caseworkers that knew investigation, family preservation and legal conservatorship cases. Their mission is to assist the judges in helping them assess all child abuse and neglect cases that came before them and to establish communication and collaboration with the nonprofit organizations that provide direct services to the families in the court system.

20150115_093655Newly elected District Attorney Nico LaHood agreed to give up office space to allow offices for the nonprofit organizations right next to the courtrooms to allow direct and easy access of services for the parents and families that come to court.

Meanwhile, we established new expectations of nonprofits by requiring evidence-based outcomes with data and metrics that would allow the flow of information between them and the Court.

For the past fiscal year, we have reduced the number of cases filed for removal by 30 percent, nearly 3,000 fewer court orders for removal. The Court had much more time to spend on the needs of individual cases, and more reunifications with families are occurring with the enhanced communication and collaboration of all the stakeholders.” – Judge Peter Sakai, 225th District Court of Texas

Full Article – https://chronicleofsocialchange.org/opinion/how-san-antonio-lowered-removal-rates-and-achieved-better-safety-outcomes/14702