DO NO HARM Parents call for reforms to protect families from mistaken child abuse allegations

Jason and Lorina Troy temporarily lost custody of their children based on a child abuse pediatrician’s finding.
Julia Robinson / for the Houston Chronicle and NBC News

AUSTIN, Texas — Lorina Troy’s voice trembled as she told lawmakers about the moment her baby and 4-year-old son were taken away by Child Protective Services.

“Are they going to hurt me, Mommy?” Troy said her 4-year-old asked as a worker loaded him into a car.

The mother’s emotional testimony came during a daylong hearing called by Texas lawmakers in response to an investigation by NBC News and the Houston Chronicle that highlighted the plight of parents who’d been accused of child abuse based on mistaken reports by doctors. The reporting showed that child welfare workers removed some children from homes after receiving reports from state-funded child abuse pediatricians that were later called into question, leading to traumatic family separations and monthslong legal fights.

The children spent five months in foster care, and Troy’s husband, Jason, was charged criminally before another doctor reviewed the baby’s medical records and found that the excess fluid in the child’s head was actually the result of the undiagnosed neurological condition.

“How would you feel if this type of situation were to happen to you?” Troy said to members of the Texas House of Representatives committee that oversees the state’s child welfare system.

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