The notebooks, backpacks, reams of paper, pens and pencils were going to the Rainbow Room at the Texas Department of Family and Protective Service office at 1800 S. Washington St.
John Lennan, the FPS media specialist from Corpus Christi, said the supplies will be available to children whose families or caregivers cannot provide the items they need to start school this month.
Lennan said too many Bee County residents are unaware of the child neglect and abuse problems here.
So far in the 2012-13 fiscal year, the state has removed children from homes in 65 court-ordered cases. That is well more than one such case a week, Lennan said.
Investigators have reported 138 “confirmed” victims of abuse and neglect here, out of a population of 6,904 children in the county.
That means there were 20 victims of child abuse or neglect in Bee County for every 1,000 children. The statewide average for such cases is 9.1 children for every 1,000.
Lennan said Child Protective Services has completed 241 investigations in the county this year, involving 422 potential victims. Of those, 82 of the cases (34 percent) have been confirmed as abuse or neglect cases.
Statewide, Lennan said, the average is 23.3 confirmed cases.
“Put into context, that shows why donations are important,” Lennan said. Most of the time when children are removed from a home, they have no clothes or personal items. The Rainbow Room is their only resource for those items, he said.
Lennan also reminded parents who are searching for day care for their preschool children this time of year that they should be careful about which day care business they choose.
Many such facilities are not being operated legally and up to state standards.
Illegal day care operations are more likely to be unsafe. Their employees are not given background checks, the facilities are not inspected, and there are no standards in place to keep children safe.
This year, the Texas Legislature authorized the FPS to hire new staff to begin monitoring illegal day care operations.
“We are hiring 40 new staff whose only job is to track down illegal day care operators and either bring them into the light of state regulation or shut them down,” said Paul Morris, acting assistant commissioner for Child Care Licensing.
Morris urged all parents to check on day care facilities to make sure they are properly licensed.
When looking for a licensed day care facility, Morris said, parents must remember to “look, learn, visit and meet.”
The state regulations require any caregiver to see to it that any home that keeps up to three unrelated children apply background checks to their staff members.
Registered homes (taking care of a maximum of 12 children at any tine) must meet training requirements and background checks and submit to inspections every two years.
Larger licensed homes and day care centers must comply with the same regulations and they must be inspected every five-12 months.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.