PHOENIX - A draft version of a proposed bill potentially headed to the Arizona Legislature seeks to provide child protective services workers with proper training when it comes to investigating cases.
The 10-page proposed bill has yet to be assigned a number, but it sets a clear direction for the new Department of Child Safety and Family Services.
"It has to be real. It's not just window dressing for us to go forward and I hope, if we can get this done, it will mean a new day for our most vulnerable children here in Arizona, said State Rep. Kate Brophy McGee.
The first line of the measure makes sure it is clear that every case of abuse or neglect will be investigated.
Lawmakers are working on developing a better definition of "abuse and neglect." They also are creating new statutes that would address issues caseworkers see every day.
"An example would be infants who are born addicted. There needs to be a policy discussion on is that abuse or neglect and how do you differentiate that," said McGee.
Caseworkers would also need to undergo law enforcement type training to including how to conduct proper forensic interviews.
The bill also states that workers must work with law enforcement on cases when appropriate.
The new department will be required to conduct internal audits and will be monitored by a citizen's oversight board.
Lawmakers hope to have a complete bill drafted by May 1.
A lot of what is contained in the draft bill was already recommended by the CARE team, which was established by Gov. Jan Brewer when she abolished CPS.
Lawmakers said they are also looking at laws in other states where the CPS system has been reformed.