A 15-year-old sex trafficking victim in Harris County, Texas goes missing from DFPS custody twice in less than two weeks

Jenifer Knighton

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DFPS

Why are DFPS workers still struggling with taking corrective action to work towards keeping children safe, and preventing young children that have been victimized from being revictimized, especially while the child is in their care?

Houston, Texas- Evidently, children that are being placed in the custody of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services are enduring abuse and neglect by a system that was put in place to protect them.

Allegations against the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) continue to surface. Within the past month, dozens of parents, families, and anonymous sources from around the country have alleged that regardless of the circumstances, they or their loved ones have been victimized while being involved with the Department of Family and Protective Services.

The family of a 15-year-old Texas child that has went missing from DFPS custody twice in the past two weeks wants to know what state workers have done, and what they are doing to find the child and assure her safety and well-being.

The teen was temporarily placed in DFPS custody in May because her mother was unable to get her the appropriate care that she needed. The child, who has severe emotional disturbances, a drug problem, and a history of being trafficked was referred by a psychiatrist, therapist, and other professionals to residential treatment that the mother could not afford.

Rather than following DFPS policy and procedure and assisting the family in getting the child care through Temporary or Joint Managing Conservatorship, the Department allegedly filed a falsified petition in a Harris County Court to take conservatorship and have the mother’s rights relinquished entirely so the child could be placed in a foster home.

The child was then placed in a CWOP or “child without placement" location which consisted of her sitting in a DFPS office in Houston, Texas during the day with no television and nothing to do and a hotel room with two under-trained state workers at night.

The child was not enrolled in school or any type of rehabilitation services, and despite her history of severe drug use, overdose, and suicide attempts, a paper bag full of prescription medications was left in the room with the child unsupervised, giving her complete access to handle the medications on her own.

The child went missing and the family wasn't notified. She was recovered severely intoxicated after 9 days of missing and taken to the hospital. According to the family, Texas Children's Hospital released the child without any regard for her extensive history of drug abuse, or the noticeable concerns for her mental health.

When questioned by the child’s family about their actions, DFPS workers either declined to respond or provided a very minimal response.

The 15-year-old girl's grandmother anticipated an empathetic, supportive, and solution-focused response. However, according to her, the family has received no such thing.

My daughter has been threatened and harassed for trying to get my granddaughter's help, she said.

Through a text message, Harris County DFPS Program Director Stacey Truss asked the grandmother if she wanted to take the missing child into her custody.

Why would I take her? She has a home. She needs help, she has a mother and a family that love her. My daughter has been begging CPS and other organizations for help for a long time. They don't help, they threaten people, they lie, and then they falsify documentation. And now this. Where is my granddaughter, she asked, and who is going to take responsibility for neglecting my granddaughter's needs while in cps custody?

Attempts to reach the program director and get an update on the Department's actions have been unsuccessful.

If you or someone you know has concerns about the Department of Family and Protective Services, also known as DCF or CPS, you are not alone. For resources, support, or to tell your CPS horror story, you can send a confidential email to info@jenforjustice.com and someone will get back to you as soon as possible. For immediate assistance please text 832-954-5957. Check back for updates.

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Jenifer Knighton is a community activist and journalist focused on social justice and change. Her mission is to build stronger communities through Hope, Empowerment, Advocacy and Outreach, Resources, and Support.

Houston, TX
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