*Editor's note: This story has been updated with comment from the Department of Family and Protective Services.
In the wake of three child deaths under the state’s ward so far this year, Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday told the Department of Family and Protective Services to straighten up and fly right.
In a letter to DFPS Commissioner John Specia, Abbott asked the agency to step up enforcement, develop a tool for screening potential foster parents and educate caregivers about gun safety, among other changes.
“Abuse or neglect of our most vulnerable Texans – our children – is intolerable and it is especially unacceptable when it happens to a child under the care umbrella of the state of Texas,” Abbott wrote in the letter.
The governor, who in February proposed a $40 million increase to DFPS funding, asked the agency to implement the reforms and report back in three weeks.
In late January, a 2-month-old baby girl in Dallas, Justice Hull, was intentionally drowned by a 14-year-old teen.
Justice came into CPS custody after her mother was jailed shortly after the girl’s birth. CPS workers then placed Justice in the care of a family friend. Police say the family friend's daughter intentionally drowned baby Justice.
Last year, nine children died while under DFPS supervision, according to Abbott’s letter.
"We appreciate the support of Governor Abbott on this very important issue, and look forward to working with him and with legislators to strengthen protections and ensure safety for children in families who are involved with Child Protective Services," Specia said in a written statement.