Print Print |

CPS Overwhelmed

New data from the Arizona Department of Economic Security shows the number of children in foster care at an all-time high of 12,649 at the end of March. In just the first three months of 2012, the number of foster children grew by more than 1,200 — far more than the growth during all of 2011.

This growth reflects the extreme stress in so many families and communities and the extreme budget cuts in prevention that leave struggling families with nowhere to turn. The infrastructure of Child Protective Services falls far short of what is needed to respond to such intense demands. Workloads for the staff are so overwhelming that more than 10,000 reports of abuse and neglect that came in during the second half of 2011 still had incomplete investigations by April 2012. Simply put, we are not meeting expectations to make sure that children are safe and move to a permanent home.

Click here to see the charts.

The problems of child abuse and neglect are intense and difficult. But there are answers and actions that can strengthen families and protect children. As candidates for the Arizona state legislature ask for your vote this summer, ask them what their priorities will be to protect children. Tell them you will choose candidates — in both the primary and the general election — who step up to take responsibility to prevent child abuse and to reconnect children with safe and loving families.

For more real-life stories about Child Protective Services, visit Saving Arizona’s Children. This is a year-long project of the Arizona Republic, azcentral.com and 12 News that examines the condition of Arizona’s children.

2012 Policy Brief – Stepping Up for Kids: What Government and Communities Should Do to Support Kinship Families

MORE ARIZONA CHILDREN RAISED BY RELATIVES

by Lauara Jasso
and Brenda Gloria
Arizona Grandparent Ambassadors

Key Policy Steps Can Help Children Thrive
What do President Barack Obama, U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe and Oprah Winfrey have in common? Like 60,000 children in Arizona today, they were raised by their grandparents or other relatives for part of their childhoods. This practice, called kinship care, has been growing in Arizona and throughout the nation.

The Arizona Grandparent Ambassadors are asking every state legislator and every legislative candidate to read a new report, called Stepping Up for Kids: What Government and Communities Should Do to Support Kinship Families. The report, published by The Annie E. Casey Foundation, highlights effective policies that states are already pursuing to help kinship families thrive. These include policies to make better use of federal resources and to make existing supports more relevant for kinship caregivers.
Read More…

 

Read the Arizona Press Release Here

 

See More Statistics on Grandfamilies

SteppingUpforKidsOnlineBadge150

 

What do President Barack Obama, U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe and Oprah Winfrey have in common?

Like 60,000 children in Arizona today, they were raised by their grandparents or other relatives for part of their childhoods. This practice, called kinship care, has been growing in Arizona and throughout the nation.

The Arizona Grandparent Ambassadors are asking every state legislator and every legislative candidate to read a new report, called Stepping Up for Kids: What Government and Communities Should Do to Support Kinship Families. The report, published by The Annie E. Casey Foundation, highlights effective policies that states are already pursuing to help kinship families thrive. These include policies to make better use of federal resources and to make existing supports more relevant for kinship caregivers.

Learn More About Kinship Care in Arizona:
Arizona Press Release
Arizona Grandparent Ambassadors Op-Ed

More Arizona Children Raised by Relatives

Dana Wolfe Naimark, Children’s Action Alliance
dnaimark@azchildren.org
(602) 266-0707 office

Laura Jasso, Arizona Grandparent Ambassadors
gparentambassador@gmail.com
(520)-240-6055
Brenda Gloria, Arizona Grandparent Ambassadors
beeglow@graffiti.net
(602) 670-3078

Download PDF Version

Key Policy Steps Can Help Children Thrive

What do President Barack Obama, U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe and Oprah Winfrey have in common?  Like 60,000 children in Arizona today, they were raised by their grandparents or other relatives for part of their childhoods.  This practice, called kinship care, has been growing in Arizona and throughout the nation.

The Arizona Grandparent Ambassadors are asking every state legislator and every legislative candidate to read a new report, called Stepping Up for Kids: What Government and Communities Should Do to Support Kinship Families.  The report, published by The Annie E. Casey Foundation, highlights effective policies that states are already pursuing to help kinship families thrive.  These include policies to make better use of federal resources and to make existing supports more relevant for kinship caregivers.

A lot of research confirms what thousands of grandparents throughout Arizona know firsthand:  children do best with their own family members even when they can’t live with their parents.   Sadly, the  love and healing kinship families give often come with severe hardships that accompany the huge, unexpected responsibilities.  Key steps can dramatically improve support for caregivers so that children can grow into successful adults.

“We created the Arizona Grandparent Ambassadors so that we can help each other keep our grandchildren safe, healthy, and thriving,” said Doris Gilder.  “So many grandparents we know personally are struggling with financial issues and health issues and they have nowhere to turn.  We know there are many more out there struggling alone.”

The number of children being raised by relatives in Arizona has grown 63% in the last decade, two and a half times faster than the number of children in the state.  About 3,600 children who have been abused or neglected are living with relatives who are serving as foster parents.  Fifteen times that number — more than 54,000 children — have no formal involvement with the Child Protective Services system. 

Relatives have stepped in to care for kids when parents can’t — due to death, illness, incarceration, military service, domestic violence, deportation, or substance abuse.  Stepping Up for Kids  notes that kinship caregivers are more likely to be poor, single, older, less educated and unemployed than families with parents, which makes it especially difficult for them to take on the extra costs for children.

In the past, Arizona pioneered some successful policies designed for kinship caregivers,” said Dana Wolfe Naimark, President and CEO of Children’s Action Alliance.  “But kinship families have suffered from shortsighted state budget cuts in recent years.  Grandchildren have lost child care and health coverage and  9,000 children lost basic financial support overnight when lawmakers changed the rules to shut out kinship families.”

“Keeping families together and strong is a basic American value that is shared no matter your race, your political party, or where you live,” said Brenda Gloria, a grandmother who adopted two of her grandsons in Phoenix.  “We have stepped up with love and commitment for our families.   We want to work with elected and community leaders and other grandparents to act on key policy changes that will help us do an even better job raising the next generation for Arizona.”

Children’s Action Alliance is an independent voice for Arizona children at the state capitol and in the community.  CAA works to improve children’s health, education, and security through information and action.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation is a private charitable organization whose primary mission is to foster public policies, human-service reforms, and community supports that more effectively meet the needs of today’s vulnerable children and families. For more information, visit www.aecf.org. KIDS COUNT® is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Fewer Juveniles Being Prosecuted in Adult Court

Every year the Arizona Administrative Office of the Courts releases a report that gives an overview of the juveniles processed at various stages of the juvenile justice system across the state. This year’s report, Arizona’s Juvenile Court Counts: Statewide Statistical Information FY2011 was recently released and we are happy to say we’ve found some good news in it.

The number of juveniles who were sent to juvenile court last year was significantly less than it was just 5 years ago. In 2007, 48,677 juveniles were referred to juvenile court to face possible disciplinary action. Last year, that number fell to 36,639, a decrease of 25%!

Similarly, the number of juveniles prosecuted as adults decreased in between 2007 and 2011. In 2007, 588 juveniles were prosecuted in adult court. By 2011 that number had decreased by 38% to 364!

Congratulations to Arizona youth and to the work of families, communities, law enforcement and all the agencies working with youth for making this progress possible. We all have much more to do to improve outcomes for youth and to reform the juvenile justice system, but the numbers reflected throughout this report should give us encouragement to move forward.

A Rainy Day Fund or a Fund for Tax Cuts?

Dana_Wolfe_Naimarkby CAA President and CEO, Dana Wolfe Naimark

The legislature adjourned last week, which means we likely won’t see them back in session until a new legislature takes office in January.

At the beginning of the session, the House and Senate Appropriations Chairmen — Representative John Kavanagh and Senator Don Shooter — set very low expectations, saying they were looking for a budget with no new funding, no new cuts, and no restorations. That sort of treading water describes the overall legislative session for kids. No vision for stronger families, no goal for healthier kids, no plan for more education success, no strategies for helping working families move up the ladder, and no commitment to improve child protection. Arizona taxpayers deserve better.

Thanks to all of you, we do have some things to celebrate from the session. Governor Brewer signed the bill we promoted, sponsored by Senator Rich Crandall, to clarify limited liability when schools open up their playgrounds and fields to the community after school hours. There is strong bipartisan support for this effort that will give more children safe places to run and play and be healthy. We look forward to working with schools to make this work for them.

Together we fought hard to get $42 million to DES simply to replace federal funds we are losing. That funding made it into the budget and supports the status quo.

Children’s Action Alliance supported one of the bills that improves Child Protective Services procedures, sponsored by Representative Katie Hobbs and Senator Linda Gray. This bill is now on the Governor’s desk; we expect her to sign it. The legislature also created a new investigations unit for the most serious criminal cases of abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, this unit won’t touch the vast majority of children in the CPS system. CPS remains overwhelmed with growing demands from the community and an infrastructure that is not equipped to keep up. As a result, thousands of cases go without the needed response and kids remain at risk.

Sometimes the best news is no news. We are all celebrating that there is no TABOR spending limit on the ballot in 2012!

House Speaker Andy Tobin and Senate President Steve Pierce made a very big deal about keeping state spending low so they could put money aside this year for future needs. Yet, with profound inconsistency, they passed another large tax cut on their last day in session. On a party-line vote, the legislature cut capital gains taxes for the wealthiest 1% of Arizonans, cut business personal property taxes, and added and expanded other tax credits. The tax cuts phase in at a cost of $28 million in fiscal year 2014 — the first year the temporary sales tax is gone — up to $108 million in fiscal year 2019.

Sweeping money into a rainy day fund today to give it away in tax cuts tomorrow makes it even harder to invest in education, children’s health care, and Arizona families for our future.

So where do we go from here?

1. Stick with Children’s Action Alliance. We need you to be with us fighting for kids. Each year, we make a difference. We won’t give up. We’re already developing good ideas for next year — and getting ready to fight more bad ideas.

2. 2012 is an election year for all 90 seats in the state legislature. Get to know the candidates and choose wisely when you vote. Visit the election section of our website for regular updates.

3. Voters have the opportunity to step in where the legislature failed. Check out the Quality Education and Jobs initiative that renews the one cent sales tax for education, children’s health, family support, and state infrastructure. You can sign a petition today and vote YES in November.