Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer used her annual State of the State address Monday to announce decisive action to overhaul the state's child welfare agency, pulling Child Protective Services from its current department and placing it under the oversight of a new Cabinet-level post reporting directly to the governor.The action followed this story:
Brewer called the executive order that "abolished CPS as we know it" a critical step to protect children in the state, a move made more pressing by the discovery in November of more than 6,500 uninvestigated child abuse and neglect reports.
She named the head of the state's juvenile corrections department to head the new unit and asked the Legislature to help her do more to overhaul the agency.
"We need to go even further. The time has come to statutorily establish a separate agency that focuses exclusively on the safety and well-being of children and helping families in distress without jeopardizing child safety," Brewer said. "I call on the Legislature to work with me to codify a new permanent agency. Child safety must be the priority and become embedded in the fabric of this new agency. It is our legal and moral duty."
The revelation that about 6,000 cases of suspected child abuse reported to an Arizona hotline were never investigated has cast a disturbing spotlight on a state department in disarray as officials call for investigations and accountability.It sounds bad when the CPS defender just says that he does not know about any fatalities, and the governor take drastic action.
Over the past four years, a team at Arizona's Child Protective Services agency improperly designated the cases "N.I." — meaning "Not Investigated" — to help manage their heavy workload and focus on the most severe cases, said Clarence Carter, chief of the state's child welfare system.
Under state law, all reports generated via the statewide hotline must be investigated, Carter said Thursday. He noted plans would be revealed Monday on how the state will catch up on the overlooked backlog.
At least 125 cases already have been identified in which children later were alleged to have been abused.
"I don't know of any fatalities," Gregory McKay, the agency's chief of child welfare investigations, said of the botched cases.
I will have to follow this to see if anything improves. I doubt it. Of course CPS cannot investigate every crank call. It means nothing to say that CPS ignored a case that had a later abuse allegation. Maybe those allegations were groundless, and CPS was right to ignore them.
My impression is that "child safety" is just a code word for putting more kids in foster care. The governor's action is just a ploy to get more money for seizing kids. I don't see anything in this plan for respecting parental rights. It is a common fallacy among these do-gooders that safety requires taking kids from parents without proof. In reality, kids are nearly always much safer with their parents than in foster care.