Child Advocate: Harlingen native promotes children’s safety

Renee Castillo De La Cruz, a 1999 Harlingen South graduate, has a history of advocating for children's rights. Courtesy Photo

HARLINGEN — Renee Castillo De La Cruz has a history of advocating for children’s rights.

In November 2019, she started working for the Texas Children’s Commission, and prior to that she was an attorney representing the Department of Family Protective Services in Caldwell County.

CPS cases were her niche, but her history in defending children started in Harlingen.

She currently lives in Austin but attended Sam Houston Elementary School and Coakley Middle School.

Later on, she graduated from Harlingen South in the class of 1999. She attended Texas Tech University, as well as the University of Texas at Austin.

“I graduated from UT with the bachelor’s in government and from Texas Tech in 2009 with my law degree,” Castillo De La Cruz said.

“I also represented children in juvenile court, but then in 2015, I took a job with the Caldwell County District Attorney’s office,” she said.

Her passion for law and children motivated her to pursue that specific area.

“I think growing up in the Valley was very important. I got to see a lot of people doing important things and from a very young age I knew I wanted to be an attorney and always had that in my mind. I knew I wanted to be able to give back, and we are representing some of the most vulnerable, young children,” Castillo De La Cruz said.

When she worked with CPS, she helped children be reunited with their parents.

She now resides in Austin but said she will always have a lot of love for the Valley.

“I do see myself being able to return home. I feel very rooted; I go back to visit all the time,” she said.

At the time, the Texas commission she works for is focusing on how people can have proper Zoom hearings. She works on education issues and attorney training.

She recently wrote an article with Texas CASA discussing what should be considered for children who are at home learning.

“We talked about children in foster care and seeing if they have all the normalcy they should be having,” she said.

In the future, she would want to have a higher position in her commission and be able to train others.

“I feel there are a lot of attorneys that do not have access to education and training, and I want to help make sure we have that education outlet for everyone,” Castillo De La Cruz said.

“I always see myself doing something in this area of law. It is where my passion lies and right now where I am working at it is letting me do things at a state level,” she said.