Arizona Governor Jan Brewer abolished the state’s Child Protective Services (CPS) minutes before delivering her State of the State address on Monday, Jan. 13.
Minutes before delivering what many consider to be her last address, Brewer signed an executive order abolishing the troubled agency.
The announcement surprised lawmakers, as did Brewer’s proposal that the agency’s duties should now fall under a new cabinet-level department that would report directly to Brewer.
“It is evident that our child welfare system is broken, impeded by years of structural and operational failures,” Brewer said during her annual address.
The announcement came as state officials continue to sort through more than 6,500 cases that CPS admitted had not been investigated, despite reports of abuse and neglect.
Brewer announced that she would favor reform of the system, and on, Jan. 13, officially created a new Division of Child Safety and Family Services with a director who would report directly to her. The Arizona governor would need the support of lawmakers to establish such a department.
On Jan. 30, the Arizona Legislature approved a $6.8 million appropriation that will allow Brewer’s updated agency to immediately hire 192 new workers. $1.1 million will go to the current budget and another $5.7 million will go to the new agency, ABS 15 and the AP report.
Currently, almost 7,000 cases are being reviewed by the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
Clarence Carter, director of Arizona’s Department of Economic Security, revealed the uninvestigated reports on Nov. 21, placing five CPS workers on leave as officials investigated the claims. In late December, officials announced that nearly 1,700 of the 6,500 cases had been reviewed and cleared.
Brewer’s announcement ended the tenure of Carter and replaced him with Charles Flanagan, who oversees Arizona’s Department of Juvenile Corrections.
More troubling, however is the fact that there is no standard for making a report, causing many illegitimate claims to be mixed in with legitimate claims. Because of this level of scrutiny, our experience has shown that many frivolous claims are investigated when they should be dropped, keeping investigators from the real claims of abuse that need a closer review.
A few questions to consider regarding the proposed reform:
– How does the Brewer proposal actually solve the problems of CPS?
– Will the new agency see an increase in investigators, allowing them sufficient time to investigate each claim?
– Will the law of mandatory reporting and mandatory investigating be changed to benefit CPS?
– How will this new investigating agency identify the problems that led to the original CPS controversies?
Brewer also told lawmakers she is hoping to create a campaign against human trafficking that will strengthen laws, better protect its victims, and end the gruesome crime. She established a Human Trafficking Task Force last year and with its recommendations, plans to improve on their methods of protection, as well as establishing a campaign to give victims of human trafficking the resources and support systems to create a life of their own.