New legislation could change DCS investigations

Posted at 8:00 PM, Feb 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-09 23:00:13-05

A proposal to send child safety investigators on fewer wild goose chases is ruffling some feathers at Arizona's State Capitol.

Under House Bill 2522, which passed in the committee Monday, child abuse hotline reports would be set aside and not investigated under certain circumstances.

The current proposals say tips could be ignored if the abuse or neglect happened more than three years ago and no current abuse is alleged, or if it's not possible to identify the suspected abuser.

This would reduce caseloads for overwhelmed Department of Child Safety investigators.

"We are researching and defining what calls it is appropriate not to respond to, so we can then focus our resources where they need to be -- where they can do the most good," bill sponsor Rep. Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix, said.

"I have a lot of concern giving that type of permission to a system that's already not responsive to protecting children," Rep. Rebecca Rios, D-Phoenix, said after voting against the bill. Rios worried a law change could discourage citizens from reporting suspected child abuse or neglect.

Approximately 52,000 state child abuse hotline calls come in each year.

DCS officials say the legislation would allow the agency to prioritize their efforts where the states' vulnerable children most need it.