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The latest on Child Protection and Family Services

CPS EMERGENCY FUNDING

Yesterday, Governor Brewer signed an emergency funding measure that will provide the Division of Child Safety and Family Services (CPFS) with $5.7 million immediately to address the CPS crisis. This funding will allow the Division to add 192 new full-time staff (126 caseworkers and 66 others that will be supervisors, case aides, support staff, etc.) The plan is to phase in 38 caseworkers monthly starting now. This supplemental budget passed both the House and Senate unanimously last Thursday. Despite the fact that the bill did not fund prevention or intervention services, this is a good first step to addressing the critical problems in our state to keeping children safe. CPS reform and repair must begin with caseloads that are low enough to allow us to succeed in keeping children safe and families strong.

CARE TEAM PLANS FOR MOVING FORWARD

In December, Governor Brewer created the CARE Team in response to the announcement that 6,500 reports to CPS had gone uninvestigated. The Governor charged the team – chaired by Director Charles Flanagan – to investigate each one of these reports to ensure children are safe, as well as to assess the policies, processes and personnel of Arizona’s child protection system and make necessary recommendations for improvement.

Last Friday, the Brewer Administration released a CARE Team report that unapologetically admits that CPS caseworkers are overwhelmed with a growing workload and are unable to successfully do the job they value personally and professionally. It also emphasized the need for additional staff, better management training, improvements to the hotline, clarification of roles, services to keep children safe in permanents families, and more consistent, standardized procedures. The full report is available on-line.

The report focuses on the front end of the process from when a call comes into the CPS hotline until an investigation is closed. But based on overwhelming and compelling community input, the CARE team pointed out the need to re-think prevention and family support services. We appreciate your help in keeping the spotlight on this part of the process. We need more than thinking, we also need action so that fewer families ever need CPS in the first place.

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