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STATE SENATE BUDGET LEAVES GAPING HOLES FOR CHILD SAFETY

March 23, 2014

STATEMENT: STATE SENATE BUDGET LEAVES GAPING HOLES FOR CHILD SAFETY

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The 2014 state legislative session began with loud commitments from all state lawmakers to fix CPS and re-build a system that will keep children safe and healthy in permanent homes. If the Senate budget becomes the final state budget, Arizona will fail at this task.

The Senate budget repeats the mistakes of the past that have created the current CPS crisis. While it adds some new funding, it skimps on all the basic ingredients needed for an effective system. It does nothing to help families before they are in crisis or prevent child abuse and neglect. It doesn’t make the commitment needed to support CPS staff and make caseloads low enough so that they can succeed. It doesn’t provide enough funding to update the technology soon to make the system work. It doesn’t create a range of tools that the new agency can use to protect children and get families back on track. In short, not only does it fail to provide the needed funding to fix CPS, it lacks the vision to lead Arizona to a good system that will keep children safe and healthy.

If this becomes the final budget, we can expect the current CPS crisis to continue into the future. The only difference will be a new agency director with a new agency name to ask what went wrong. State representatives can use their budget votes on Monday to back up their stated commitment to child safety with action. We urge all state representatives and Governor Brewer to support amendments to the Senate budget that:

  • Add new funding for child care subsidies to prevent situations of child neglect for working parents earning low incomes.
  • Add funding for placement of children in emergency and residential treatment. These placements will have to be paid for. If they’re not funded, the dollars will be taken out of some other area of child safety.
  • Add funding to hire critical CPS staff, so caseloads can be low enough to give children protection, stability, and a chance for the future.
  • Add funding for staff in the Office of Child Welfare Investigations, so it can investigate all reports of child abuse and neglect involving criminal conduct.
  • Add funding to quickly replace the CHILDS computer data system for CPS.

We urge our Legislature and our Governor to support Arizona’s children with more than words. It is time to act.