DES REQUESTS MORE CPS STAFF; NO $ FOR PREVENTION
The Department of Economic Security (DES) has submitted its budget request to Governor Brewer for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2014 (fiscal year 2015). There are four issues addressing needs in Child Protective Services that together would add 444 staff at a cost of $115.8 million in general fund dollars. (See the four issues summarized below.)
This large amount is requested to handle the skyrocketing number of incoming calls and reports and to find abused and neglected children safe places to stay. The size of this budget request makes it clear that CPS will continue to be a high priority for Governor Brewer this year. Her leadership will be critical in strengthening CPS. Despite the large amount in the budget request, however, there are important issues that are completely missing.
There is nothing in the request to help the state implement the reforms called for in legislation that passed this year, creating an “alternative response” plan so families in crisis can get help in the community when a full CPS investigation isn’t needed.
There is nothing in the DES budget request to restore support for families or to prevent the need for foster care. There is no funding request for TANF benefits for the poorest mothers and children, for grandparents raising grandkids, for child care help for struggling families, for strategies to fight hunger and homelessness, for family mentoring to prevent abuse and neglect. Without any priority at all on these family issues, Arizona will be condemned to suffer the trauma and expense of extraordinary growth in children needing foster care and a continued shortage of foster families to care for them.
We can do better. Giving parents places to turn for help offers the key to safer children and stronger families in the future. Children’s Action Alliance looks forward to working with partners and lawmakers to address strategies for family support before a budget is finalized. Stay tuned for updates and alerts on how you can help Arizona design a better budget for kids.
Summary of Major CPS Issues in the Department of Economic Security Budget Request
- 235 case managers, attorneys and support staff to handle the projected increase in the number of children coming into foster care; increased funding for shelters, group homes and other residential placements; and funds to support an anticipated increase in the number of adoptions.
- 159 case managers and support staff to address caseloads that far exceed acceptable standards. The request also includes revised caseload standards for investigations and in-home and out-of-home cases.
- 50 staff for the Office of Child Welfare Investigations, which was created by the legislature in 2012 to investigate criminal conduct allegations. According to the request, current staffing allows the office to investigate only 17% of the reports involving potential criminal conduct.
- Funds to replace CHILDS, the automated system that supports CPS. Dating back to the 1990s, CHILDS is outdated, cumbersome to use, and difficult to maintain.