(May 7, 2019) — UTSA criminal justice professor Megan Bears Augustyn has spearheaded a pilot program to fight child abuse in collaboration with the Family Service Association of San Antonio and San Antonio City Council District 5.
In 2017, the San Antonio City Council approved a District 5 (78207) proposal for funds to implement the Promotoras program, which aims to address the high prevalence of child maltreatment in the district. Child Protective Services (CPS) referrals are higher in District 5 than in any of San Antonio’s other nine city council districts.
Research indicates that child maltreatment is a risk factor for poor emotional health. It also leads to behaviors that cause health risks and to substance use, homelessness and behavioral challenges in adolescents. Industry research identifies four types of child maltreatment: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse (psychological abuse) and neglect.
Child maltreatment is also a factor in crimes committed by youth and in the perpetration of child abuse from one generation to the next. In 2015 alone, child maltreatment cases cost the nation nearly $430 billion dollars.
UTSA’s Promotoras training program aims to increase the number of community health workers serving at-risk families in District 5 to reduce the prevalence of child maltreatment. Promotoras worked with pregnant teenagers from Lanier High School and referred families with an unofficial report of child maltreatment.
In consultation with the Alamo Colleges, Promotoras provided the pilot program’s Community Health Worker training and certification. Program participants completed 11 weeks of training provided by employees of Family Service and Fernando Martinez, instructor at the Alamo Colleges.
Participants of the training program expanded their knowledge of appropriate parenting behaviors for young children. In all, (how many) completed the program to receive the classification of Promotora, a certified community health care worker, with a specialized focus on child maltreatment prevention and assistance.
Those graduates, employees of Family Service Association of San Antonio, have now gone on to serve 43 families.