Former Child Protective Services case worker speaks out

PHOENIX - A former Child Protective Services caseworker is speaking out claiming the lack of accountability is the reason why Arizona's CPS system is broken.

This CPS employee asked to remain anonymous but says the state has a responsibility to protect children.

"It's the mission of the government to keep kids safe," she said.

We asked her if when she worked for CPS, if she felt like children slipped through the cracks. "Absolutely," she said.

The worker says during her time with CPS, she says she was shocked at the confessions her colleagues would make.

"Drive-bys are literally when you drive by the house. You don't actually stop. You don't do what's called due diligence," she said.

She said a couple of her co-workers asked her if she would actually go out and knock on the door.

"And I'm like 'yeah,' and they would say, 'Oh...well, I do drive-bys.' And I'm like 'What's a drive-by?' 'Oh I just drive down the street.' 'You don't knock?' 'No this case isn't anything, this report isn't anything.'"

The case worker recalls one situation where she claims a child, under state custody, died from natural causes and the case worker didn't know anything about it.

"He didn't know the sex of the kid. He didn't even know the kid passed away."  

But CPS Child Welfare Program Administrator Deborah Harper disagreed with those claims in an April interview.

We asked, "Do you feel like children slip through the cracks?" "In my perspective no," Harper replied.

ABC15 has also uncovered court paperwork supporting the claims of some parents who say caseworkers abused their power.

We found court transcripts of an open case where a judge goes on the record claiming a case worker made up her mind to take away the children because she didn't like that the parents didn't react quickly enough during the initial visit.

The judge accuses the case worker of quote "getting ticked off." The judge says he believes that's why the kids were taken away.

This former CPS employee says that's not an isolated case.

"They know they have power. People have perceived power and when you have the ability to do those things and someone pisses you off. Yeah it happens. Should it happen? No absolutely not."

But in a past interview with Department of Economic Security Director Clarence Carter, he told ABC15 abuse of power doesn't exist with his agency.

"Is there a generic issue with abuse of power?" "There is not," he said.

The caseworker we spoke to says while there are some that break the rules, there are others who really care about what they do and the children and practice due diligence.

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