MIDLAND -- April may be the start of spring, but its also Child Abuse Awareness Month. Child Protective Services says that they received 66,000 reports of abused and neglected children last year in the state of Texas. But one organization is bringing a voice to our youth.
One of the biggest supporters of Child Abuse Awareness Month is child protective services. C.P.S. has the difficult task of protecting some of the most vulnerable victims. But in the past, the organization has been able to protect thousands of kids right here in the Lone Star State.
It all begins with a report.
"Its the public who picks up the phone and calls our hotline and tells us we are worried about a child," said Karrie Emerson, Program Director of Investigations.
C.P.S. takes it from there and begins an investigation to determine if there is validity to the report.
"That's what we try to do every stage of services, whether its investigation or at home services or even when the children have been removed our goal is to always protect the children," said Emerson.
C.P.S. employees work with troubled families to build a safe environment at home. While removing a child from their home is always a last resort, sometimes it's the only option.
"If I stayed with my parents I would have gotten more abused and my sister would have gotten abused," Said Daniella Ontiveroz, who is a Youth Specialist of CPS. "I think I would have ran away. I would not have graduated high school. I wouldn't have even gone to college."
Daniella was removed from her home at the age of 13 and separated from her sister. It was a tough journey, but she is now working for the same organization that gave her a second chance 12 years ago.
" I believe things happen for a reason," said Ontiveroz. "Back then when I was 19. I always asked 'Why did this happen?' Now that I'm 25 and I work for C.P.S., I know it was the best thing."
It's a true success story for C.P.S. and an example of how child abuse awareness can save lives.