Arizona CPS update: Plan revealed to fix issues at Child Protective Services

Not good enough.

That's what some members of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's Child Protective Services Task Force are saying about a three-page plan to fix a system that let 6,000 potential child abuse cases go uninvestigated over the course of four years.

The action plan is a timeline that gives everyone an idea of when all of these cases are expected to reviewed.


So far, all the cases for 2013 that were ignored by CPS have been reviewed, and those that need further investigation have been assigned to a case worker.

By Monday, all the complaints neglected between 2009 and 2012 will have been looked at. There are 3,191 cases to review. Those will then be assigned to a case worker if they need further investigation.

Lawmakers and advocacy groups are concerned about the process used to review the cases.

"I'm not confident. We need more details on what those procedures are. I view this more as an outline of the start of a plan. But we need much more details about what they're doing and who is doing what," said Dana Wolfe-Naimark with the Children's Action Alliance group.

Members of the CPS Oversight Committee are frustrated with the plan as well.

The lawmakers say they want more details and are gathering a list of questions to take to Director Clarence Carter.

"I'm left with more questions than answers right now," said Representative Kate Brophy McGee (R) Dist. 28.

"It looks like a skeleton template. There's a lot of holes in that report. And when you take a look at it, there's something really missing in there," said Senator Leah Landrum Taylor (D) Dist. 27.

How caseworkers will manage the reviews is a big question that's yet to be answered.

"There is already a significant backlog, and more cases are coming in every day. How are they going to clear those 6,000 cases and the backlog that's existed since I've been a lawmaker?" asked Taylor.

Governor Brewer issued the following statement Tuesday night:

"There is a lot of critical work ahead for CPS to ensure that each of the 6,000 cases is properly investigated and to verify the safety of the children involved. That work is underway and I have no intention letting up until it is completed."

The Department of Economic Security tells ABC15 SWAT committee members are not involved in the review process. The SWAT team responsible for looking at these 6,000 cases are made up of CPS workers and staff with the Office of Child Welfare Investigations.

DES released this statement about the process:

"Each case has been or will be reviewed to determine what course of action is needed to ensure child safety. Several actions may be taken on each case, including:

Immediate response:  If, during the review, a child is determined to be at imminent risk of abuse or neglect, an investigator will be sent out immediately.

Alternative Investigation:  If the review finds a child is not determined to be at imminent risk of abuse or neglect, the case will be referred for an alternative investigation (AI) or sent to the field for investigation.   To meet the criteria for an AI, there must be no prior reports involving the child and the report must have been made by a mandated reporter.  In compliance with Arizona's Administrative Code, R6-5-5507, an alternative investigation would allow as CPS unit supervisor to contact a mandated reporter who can provide information to determine whether a child is at risk of abuse or neglect.  As outlined by the statutes, those who are required to be mandated reporters are doctors, nurses, doctor's assistants, counselors, social workers, police officers, religious leaders, school personnel, domestic violence victim's advocates and any other person who has responsibility for the care or treatment of the minor.  If the information gathered during an alternative investigation indicates that the child may be at risk, the case will be referred for a field investigation.

Field investigation:  If the review finds a child is not determined to be at imminent risk of abuse or neglect and the case does not meet the criteria for an alternative investigation (AI), it may be sent to the field for investigation.   These investigations will follow the policies and procedures of a normal CPS investigation, including response time and follow-up services.

Exceptions:  In some circumstances, no action will be taken on a report because there is a current report open on the incident that was received subsequent to the report being review or the case is an exception (i.e. child victim is now over the age of 18."

DES is handling the administrative investigation into what went wrong. That review could turn criminal if any wrongdoing is found.






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