MIDLAND-ODESSA, TX (KWES) - Thousands of kids in Texas at risk for abuse, all because of a shortage of child case workers. We wanted to know how it affects children here.

Statewide places like Houston and Dallas are suffering from the shortage of caseworkers. On a local level, our region is almost fully staffed but the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services says the turnover rate for case workers is extremely high.

"There's no higher priority than our response to an urgent report that a child is in danger," said Paul Zimmerman, media specialist with Child Protective Services.

The stress of the job and low pay has the turnover rate on the rise.

Across Texas, the turnover rate for case workers is about 33 percent.

"That's something you can see for sure. Wait time increasing, possibly the abuse increase as well or dissipating and so that way some people believe that they don't have to make an outcry at that point or they don't have to make a report," said Anthony Vandenberg, community resource director with Harmony Home.

Harmony Home works closely with CPS to help victims of abuse. They say they haven't noticed the shortage locally.

"They are really quite good at keeping up with their cases and we are a pretty large area that they are serving," said Vandenberg.

At the end of August, the job vacancy rate for case workers locally was just 3.9 percent.
In bigger cities like Houston, the report shows almost 270 kids considered high risk did not have a face-to-face visit between March and September.

"In order to see more kids. We need more workers in the field," said Zimmerman. "We've asked for 510 additional investigative case workers statewide and more CPS special investigators to help us."