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CPS Finds Children In Backyard Shed, Father Says They're Struggling

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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - Officials with Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) say the department is investigating after an employee found a teenager and two younger children living in a shed without water and edible food.

Two adults were with the children, but Dallas police say the children's parents were not.

Police say a CPS worker went out around 9:30 Thursday night to perform a welfare check in the 3600 block of Maryland Avenue, in the southern part of the city. Neighbors say police were at the house until 5 a.m.

The father of the children, Jacob Ortega, says the youngsters are fine and aren't malnourished. He says CPS allowed his three children to stay with his wife, Lisa, who had gone to her sister's house in Grand Prairie. CBS 11 News tried to contact Lisa but was unsuccessful.

Ortega says while it looks like a shed from the outside, the inside of the location where the children were found has been converted to a room with electricity.

Ortega acknowledged though he hasn't had running water there for about a week. He said the city shut off the water and he showed us a water bill that says his landlord owed more than $2,200. We're waiting to hear back from his landlord and a city spokesman about the situation.

Ortega explained that he and his family had fallen on tough times and have struggled for several years, moving from place to place. He says he hasn't had a steady job.

As it stands, Ortega says he has made arrangements with his landlord to repair the inside of the house in exchange for a reduced down payment on a lease. He says his wife and youngest son live in the house along with the kids' grandmother, while his two daughters and his 19-year-old son live in the converted room in the backyard -- which is not connected to the house.

Ortega says he'll have to find a new place to live if the water isn't turned on quickly.

Follow Jack on Twitter: @cbs11jack

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