Arizona CPS update: Potential changes coming to Child Protective Services

The team tasked with investigating why thousands of cases were ignored by Child Protective Services is making progress.

Currently they only have 700 cases unassigned.

"I'm pleased that we are down that low, but I'm not happy that we aren't' done with the investigation," said Director Charles Flanagan with the CARE team.

Director Flanagan was appointed along with eight others to find out why more than 6,000 cases were "not investigated" by CPS.

These are the current numbers:

Current Dispositions                  Number of Cases

Verified as Assigned                   5, 925

Verified as Responded to           2,595

Verified as Children Seen           2,881

The CARE team is still working with law enforcement agencies and caseworkers to get eyes on every child.

"I know there have been some removals. But we aren't at a point where we can release that information," said Flanagan.

Those numbers will be released when all cases have been removed and the number is checked to be accurate.

The team is now working on the second task ordered by Governor Brewer.  They are trying to find out the best system needed to make sure no child is ever ignored again. 

And while those details won't be released until the end of the month, Director Flanagan did give us some idea of the type of recommendations his team would make.

"There are not enough employees doing the work of CPS. Workers are carrying the caseloads at 177 percent higher than the national standard. That is unacceptable, that workload can't be maintained," said Flanagan.

On a legislative front, Representative Kate Brophy McGee is hoping to use her insight from being part of the CARE  team to change law.

"It is my hope that we can reset our child welfare image in a meaningful and fundamental way so our children are safer," said Brophy McGee.

Brophy McGee has drafted legislation that would make CPS its own separate entity.

"I'm waiting for the Governor's State of the State address to see where it might fit in her legislative priorities," said Brophy McGee.

She's been in talks with few CARE team member and Senate counterpart Leah Landrum Taylor on legislation that would help improve CPS.

She's hoping bi-partisan effort and partnership with the governor will force change on a child protective system that's failed for years.

At the end of this month we will also find out if the care team role will be extended.

If the governor chooses to dismantle the team, Director Flanagan assures me all cases that were not originally investigated by caseworkers will be completed outside the authority of CPS.

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