After the death of Anthony Avalos, the child protective services protocol is an active discussion in California.
CPS and the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center are located in the desert and work on cases similar to Anthony’s on a daily basis.
Araceli Martinez does clinical and psychotherapy work at the center in Palm Desert. She said she has a client every hour.
“We do have a lot of patients coming to the center with a history of abuse and trauma,” Martinez said.
As a former CPS member, Martinez understands the system isn’t perfect.
“Sometimes when CPS is involved or someone is looking into the concerns or the allegations, people are not forthcoming with the information either due to fear or the unknown,” she said.
Martinez said it’s hard to pull a child out of their home right away without the right evidence. Usually, it’s the victim’s fear and lack of compliance that can obstruct some investigations.
CPS works alongside law enforcement for cases that are investigated. If the case involves physical or sexual abuse, a forensic team is called in, she said.
Martinez said Anthony’s case of child abuse is an eye-opener for those who aren’t taking the proper steps when they spot something suspicious. She recommends repeatedly calling the national child abuse hotline, or (1-800) 422-4453.
“Don’t give up, go to one source, go to another source, continue to report, continue to share your concerns,” Martinez said.
The best way to see results, is to raise awareness and make the right people aware of the situation so the case continues to reopen, she said.