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Lone Star Project Report

Abbott Was Warned That Kids Were Abused and Dying

As reports of Texas kids being abused under state care worsen, Greg Abbott goes silent to hide and watch rather than lead
Last spring, news broke detailing an emergency within the Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) system: Texas foster kids were being neglected, brutally abused, and dying under the state’s care. CPS workers were underpaid, overworked, and overwhelmed.  Texas foster children were suffering so much neglect and abuse that a federal judge ruled that their civil rights were being violated under federal law.
 
Greg Abbott can’t duck responsibility for the neglect, abuse, and death of Texas foster children.  The warning signs were clear and Abbott was warned:
  • December 17, 2015: “Federal Judge: Texas Foster Care System Violates Children's Rights” [Texas Tribune, 12/17/2015]
  • January 18, 2016: "Abbott should call a special session to fix foster care.” [F. Scott McCown, TribTalk, 1/18/2016]
  • April 11, 2016: Democratic State Representative Chris Turner: “Special sessions are for emergency issues…if there was ever an emergency in Texas government, this is it.” [Dallas Morning News, 4/11/2016]
  • April 11, 2016: Republican State Representative Jeff Leach: “Time for all of us in the #txlege to band together to fix this. These children cannot wait & they shouldn't have to.” [Dallas Morning News, 4/11/2016]
  • May 5, 2016: “CPS is in a state of emergency. The governor and lawmakers need to treat it as such – starting with figuring out a way to immediately help the kids they know are in the most danger.” [Dallas Morning News, 5/5/2016]

Despite intense media scrutiny, damning official reports, and calls for a special legislative session to change policy and save lives, Governor Greg Abbott first looked the other way and then took only half measures to pursue the wrong reforms to repair the broken system. 
 
Abbott’s delayed actions and inept efforts made things even worse.  The Dallas Morning News reported that, “despite Abbott’s heavy hand, Child Protective Services has been in a state of perpetual crisis under his watch and, by nearly every metric, has gotten worse at protecting children.”

A recent investigative report by the Texas Tribune found that the broken child welfare system has forced nearly 80,000 Texas kids to into sex-trafficking—a staggering number that speaks to how a program responsible for helping children was setting them up as prey for criminal abusers and sex traffickers. The damning series by the Tribune can be seen here.
 
Abbott refuses to explain his failure to protect Texas kids
Rather than face up to his failure to reform a child welfare system he took on as his personal responsibility, Greg Abbott has gone silent, refusing to make new reforms or find better solutions. 

Even as horrific stories detail how abuse at CPS pushed Texas kids into the hands of sex traffickers, Greg Abbott refuses to answer questions.  According to the Texas Tribune, Abbott has declined an interview to discuss a series on sex-trafficking in Texas.
 
LSP Research: Abbott’s no comment, hide and wait strategy 
Going silent may be a cowardly approach to leadership, but Greg Abbott must think it’s working for him.  And, as long as the media lets him, he’ll likely continue his hide and watch approach to problems or controversy.  The Lone Star Project has compiled a long list of instances where Greg Abbott or his spokespeople have refused to comment on relevant issues, state policy, or legislation
 
Over 100 examples of Abbott as Governor refusing to answer questions or comment in response to questions posed by the press: