in Houston, Texas
Texas family services commissioner Howard Baldwin resigns, police investigate alleged cover-up in child abuse case
Friday, Nov 09, 2012, 10:33AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
stuffed animals

Howard Baldwin, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services commissioner, resigned Thursday amid an investigation into the death of a 22-month-old girl and the handling of it by the Department of Child Protective Services in Abilene.

Baldwin’s boss, Kyle Janek, executive commissioner of the state Department of Health and Human Services, would say only that Baldwin was leaving to pursue other interests and thanked him for his many years of public service, according to the Houston Chronicle today.

In Baldwin’s absence, CPS Regional Director Bit Whitaker, Program Director Gretchen Denny and supervisor Barbara McDaniel remain on paid leave as Abilene police look into allegations of a cover-up and tampering with evidence in the dehydration death of Tamryn Klapheke.

Howard BaldwinHoward Baldwin

The body of the girl and her sisters, 3 and 6 months old at the time, were found Aug. 28 in their mother’s home on Dyess Air Force Base where they had been alone without food and water for as much as a week, Abilene Police said.

Tiffany Klapheke has been charged in connection with the death and the neglect. She is being held in the Taylor County Jail.

The discovery of Tamryn’s body came six days after Claudia Gonzalez, a Child Protective Services caseworker, closed the third investigation of neglect by the family, the Chronicle reports.

Gonzalez had not visited the children nor had she gotten a necessary supervisor's signature to close the case. Gonzalez resigned.

In a search warrant obtained by Abilene Police, Whitaker, Denny and McDaniel are accused of tampering with evidence in the case.

No one with Child Protective Services has been charged in connection with the investigation.

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of stuffed animals by flickr user The Eggplant, used via a Creative Commons license.

Friday, 11/09/2012 - 06:06PM

This is not why he has resigned. He very recently went before the legislature to discuss CPS being in "crisis." The state has said it is in crisis and one of the major factors is turnover. Studies completed show recruitment and retention efforts are needed to improve this and the most significant factor in exit surveys from resigning CPS workers is pay and job quality. Baldwin went before a majority Republican chamber and pointed out that Texas has the lowest starting salary for CPS than every state that borders it. LA starting is 45,000. TX is 29,000. He requested money to allow a raise for CPS to stop the significant turnover rate it has been under for the past several year. Democrats voiced support. Republicans did not. Less than a week later Baldwin resigns. Baldwin has only been on the job a short period of time. The commissioner before him suddenly "resigned" after supporting not cutting essential services to abused and neglected children. Rick Perry and house republicans have repeatedly shown they fire, force out, commissioners and others that aren't willing to play their puppets. Baldwin was a good man. The new commissioner will not be able to improve anything for the child in texas at risk because the PROBLEM is the job. Republicans understand capitalism and competition. You cannot recruit people to do their job when it does not pay

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