Arizona lawmakers set to revamp CPS - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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Arizona lawmakers set to revamp CPS

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Posted: Thursday, May 22, 2014 9:55 am

State lawmakers are expected to be called back to the Capitol next week to fix — and recraft — the state's embattled Child Protective Services.

Gov. Jan Brewer has scheduled an announcement this morning to discuss child welfare issues.

Press aide Andrew Wilder would not provide specifics, but it is widely known she has received the recommendations of a special panel which has been studying the problems at the agency, including how more than 6,500 complaints of abuse and neglect when uninvestigated despite state laws mandating they be reviewed.

Some of the agency's issues were addressed when Brewer removed CPS from the purview of Department of Economic Security Director Clarence Carter. Instead, she created a new Division of Child Safety and Family Services headed by Charles Flanagan.

But Brewer needs legislative approval to actually create an independent agency headed by someone who reports directly to her.

That's only part of what lawmakers will be asked to address, as some of it involves funding.

In January, Brewer requested $80 million in new funds for child welfare, most of that for new caseworkers.

But legislative leaders balked, saying they wanted to see more details of exactly how this agency would function — and that it would not simply be the old CPS with a new name. So Brewer got about $59 million, with a promise of more if she can show it's necessary.

The other funding issue is a request by Rep. Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix, to restore full funding for state-subsidized child care.

Right now there is a cap on enrollment, one that has created a waiting list of 6,600 families. Brophy McGee has argued there's a direct link between inadequate funding for child care and the number of reports of abuse and neglect.

Lawmakers also will need to decide whether more abuse and neglect complaints should be handled as criminal matters.

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