AUSTIN (1080 KRLD) - There was gut-wrenching testimony at the State Capitol from Texas parents wrongly separated from their children by the State based on a misdiagnosis by medical professionals leading to child abuse charges.
The State House Human Services Committee held a hearing better understand the parents’ stories and to discuss the child abuse accusation process with members of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. At question is how the current system of medical recommendations of abuse are received and handled by the State’s Child Protective Services (CPS).
Single mother Ajshay James was falsely accused of medical child abuse back in 2017. After more than a year of fighting CPS, the abuse charges were dropped, but James told State lawmakers the process of clearing her name has been hell. “Psychological examinations, psychiatric examinations all cleared…I sit before you…and because it was dropped in the middle of a custody battle everything that was once in place was undone.”
Lorina Troy told lawmakers how there was never any evidence of child abuse but her husband (Jason) still faced felony charges and their 2 children were put into foster care for 2 years before their infant’s symptoms were accurately diagnosed as a rare disease and not due to being shaken. “The worst day of my life was when my children were wrongfully taken from me. As a mother, to have your children wrongfully taken from you is so completely devastating and traumatizing I can’t put into words of how completely heart-breaking and devastating it is.”
The State’s policies for removing children from parents based on false abuse accusations was first brought to light after a 9-month investigation by the Houston Chronicle and NBC News revealed a legal and medical system where medical professionals have trouble differentiating between accidental injuries and abuse. Lawmakers also heard similar testimony from two other sets of parents who were eventually able to get their children back as well, but not until after exhaustive legal and emotional efforts.
Committee Chairman Rep. James Frank thanked the parents for their testimony saying, “this obviously doesn’t help you all, but hopefully it helps in some ways to see some improvements made in the system.” Frank went one to say that things could be done before the State Legislature meets in 2021. “We can change processes right now, because honestly just in the testimony we’ve seen where good processes within CPS have protected these things…frankly y’all ended up with a good outcome, but it took forever…the better CPS works the better outcomes we have.” Frank also vowed to hold additional hearings in the coming months to develop ways to improve the system and protect parents.