Through a collaborative approach, the Travis County Child Protection Team (CPT) is dedicated to reducing the trauma for children during the investigation and prosecution of crimes committed against them.
The Child Protection Team is made up of the following organizations and agencies: Center for Child Protection, Department of Family and Protective Services, local law enforcement, Dell Children’s Medical Center and the Travis County District Attorney’s Office. With this multidisciplinary team approach, all members involved in the investigation work as a cohesive group and share information related to the case, so they can efficiently help the child and their protective family.
A representative from each of these organizations has provided an overview of their role on the Child Protection Team, as well as the most rewarding aspects of their work, and how we can take action as a community to raise awareness and help end the cycle of child abuse.
To see the full list of agencies on the Child Protection Team, please visit Our Team page.
Center for Child Protection
Interview with Center CEO, Michael Torres
“The community piece of the Child Protection Team allows us not only to put advocacy on behalf of the children first, but allows us to fill all of the gaps that are there in the system as we identify them.”
As a non-profit and nationally accredited children’s advocacy center, the Center for Child Protection serves as the community representative on the Child Protection Team, as well as provides a variety of resources for child victims and their families–including forensic, medical, education, and therapeutic services–all at no cost.
Department of Family and Protective Services
Interview with DFPS Investigator, Jennifer Williamson
“Our role is to give you the resources to keep your child safe. When that clicks for a family and they’re able to utilize those resources and actually stop the pattern of abuse–that’s a big game changer for me, and what brings me back every day.”
Child Protective Services (CPS) becomes involved with children and families when they are referred by the DFPS Investigations division, which investigates allegations of child abuse and neglect. CPS responsibilities include: providing services to children and families in their own homes; placing children in foster care; providing services to help youth in foster care successfully transition to adulthood; and helping children get adopted.
Local Law Enforcement
Interview with APD Detectives, Tonya Jefferson and Eric Guevara
“A lot of times children are reluctant to speak with law enforcement, and with a forensic interview they have the ability to speak with somebody who’s not tied to the case on the law enforcement side. It [a forensic interview] provides the young child an opportunity, sometimes for the first time, to tell her or his story in a safe environment.”
The Austin Police Department assigns detectives in the Child Abuse Unit to investigate all criminal cases of physical and sexual abuse and neglect. Responsibilities include arranging forensic interviews for victims, interviewing and taking statements of witnesses or suspects, scene preservation, evidence collection, and the execution of search and/or arrests warrants.
Dell Children’s Medical Center
Interview with Dell Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Lisa Butterworth
“We really have to be on the lookout for those kids who may not openly talk about what’s happening to them because that’s really the norm. They’re not going to come out and say, ‘Hey, this is happening to me at home.’ We have to look for their signs and symptoms, and as a community, I think we can do that.”
The Dell CARE (Child Abuse Resource and Education) Team evaluates for a broad spectrum of child maltreatment including physical abuse, sexual abuse, medical child abuse and various types of neglect. Multiple clinical specialists (psychology, radiology, and other pediatric subspecialties), as well as non-medical community partners, interface with the CARE Team to provide comprehensive care for children who may be abused or neglected.
Travis County District Attorney’s Office
Interview with Assistant District Attorney, Monica Flores
“One of the reasons that I love being a prosecutor in the Child Abuse Unit is being able to work with the children. To be able to see the change in their demeanor before the trial and after they have testified, because it’s a weight, a huge burden, that they unload once they actually are able to voice what they have held in for so long.”
The District Attorney’s Office represents the state and victims of crime in the prosecution of felony and juvenile offenses committed in Travis County. The Office also represents the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services in civil suits affecting parental rights.
Mandatory Reporting Law
Texas law requires anyone with knowledge of suspected child abuse or neglect to report it to the appropriate authorities. This mandatory reporting applies to all individuals and is not limited to teachers or healthcare professionals. To report child abuse or neglect in Texas, call 1-800-252-5400 or online at www.TXAbuseHotline.org. If you are reporting abuse in a different state, call 1-800-422-4453.