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Child advocates rally at State Capitol

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Advocates for Protecting Texas Children rallied on the south steps of the Capitol earlier Friday to lend their voice to the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

The state has a large child welfare budget that goes in the billions of dollars but as child abuse cases increase across the state the budget from programs to prevent abuse has dwindled.

That's why this rally was so important. Some in the crowd brought with them the faces of child abuse. But all of those who showed for the rally believe protection is the solution.

"But we still need folks to understand this is not something isolated that happens with those poor people and those poor problems," said Madeline McClure, the Executive Director of TexProtects.

McClure led the rally she's also been a leader in working with legislators to increase funding for abuse and neglect programs.

"The Texas Legislature has so far invested an additional 200-million more in child protective services.... yea!," said McClure. "Prevention programs that are evidence based are actually cost effective that's something that every Democrat and Republican should love."

"Those frontline investigators from the Texas Department of Family and Protective services have a loan repayment so that we don't make it so expensive to help the people that need our help," said State Senator Kirk Watson.

Despite a staggering number of deaths and injuries, the state took away over $27million in 2012 for programs meant to prevent child abuse.

Judge Darlene Byrne has seen a revolving door of abuse and neglect cases in her court.

"All of these cuts create a ripple effect so then you crowd the courthouses and fill up our foster homes and our group homes and our residential treatment facilities," Judge Byrne said.

That's why groups such as McClure's TexProtects have spent so much time reaching out to lawmakers.

"Sex abuse and all child abuse happen every day. A 176 kids are confirmed for child abuse and neglect every day in our state. That's a 176 reasons to be down here every day to talk to our legislatures," said McClure.

Denise Kendrick and her family drove to Austin for the rally. She and her husband have adopted five children from foster care. So this was important to them.

"We feel like we as Texans that we're responsible for them. So I didn't give birth to them but their mine so where here to represent for those who don't have a voice," said Kendrick.

Texas is number one in the country in abuse fatalities and 50th in funding child abuse prevention programs.

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