by Mary K. Reinhart - Oct. 8, 2011 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
Gov. Jan Brewer issued an executive order Friday to create a task force aimed at improving the state's child-welfare system, which has come under fire in recent months following a string of high-profile child deaths and injuries.
Brewer's announcement came as state Department of Economic Services Director Clarence Carter announced a plan to implement several immediate changes within Child Protective Services, including a review of the backlog of nearly 10,000 open but inactive investigations.
For the CPS review, a team of longtime supervisors also will examine 459 cases in which families have been the subject of three or more reports in the past two years.
Carter said the backlog is caused in part by staff vacancies and turnover, and exacerbated by piles of unnecessary paperwork. (Things would go easier if they could order immediate bullets to the head of accused parents)
"The complete process of investigation, from assignment to close out, is laden with redundancy," Carter said. "I want to be able to have a process that my labor force can complete." (But it's NOT an investigation. It's a VALIDATION. Creating something to justify kidnapping the kids and doping them out of their heads)
As it is, a CPS investigation takes between five and seven months to complete. DES officials, working with an outside consultant, recommended shortening the process to just over 40 days. Implementing that change would save nearly 200,000 work hours, or the equivalent of 96 more CPS staff.
Carter said the new investigation process will be piloted in two or three CPS offices beginning next month. If it's successful, it will be rolled out statewide in January. (This we gotta see. I will bet it's gonna be a real Goose Stepper)
By then, Brewer's task force will have issued its recommendations.
The governor plans to appoint to the panel at least 10 people, including Carter, lawmakers, a doctor, a judge, a prosecutor, a child-abuse-prevention leader and a victims' advocate. They'll be asked to review the state's child-welfare system, look at successful reforms in other states and submit a report by Dec. 31.
Brewer has called Carter to her office at least twice since 6-year-old Jacob Gibson died Aug. 14 in a case of alleged child abuse. Brewer's staff was particularly concerned about the increasing number of abuse and neglect cases, the growing backlog and worker caseloads.
Carter said his review found that caseloads among CPS workers have remained "fairly constant" in both number and severity.
However, the DES data show that workers are carrying caseloads at least 60 percent above the state's own standards.
While the agency continues to hire new workers, a 20 percent turnover rate has made it difficult to keep pace. (only 20%? The usual figure is 50% every year)
In June, the CPS was about 200 caseworkers short of its 1,043 allotted positions and nearly 300 shy of what it would take to maintain state caseload standards.
But Carter said stepped up recruitment efforts have the CPS just 47 workers short of being fully staffed, though the newest hires are in training. That's as full as the agency has been in three years, he said.
He cautioned against expecting too much. The national turnover rate among child-welfare workers is 20 percent, he said, and it's unlikely that anything Arizona does will make a significant difference.
"We can play around the margins, but we aren't going to be able to dramatically move the needle," he said.
There are more than 11,000 children in CPS custody, including nearly 6,500 in Maricopa County. The number of reports, investigations and child removals has been rising steadily since early 2009.
It's a good question, thank you for asking.
But actually, it's the other way around. Arizona doesn't have a shortage of foster parents and other places to put children, Arizona has a surplus of foster children needlessly taken from everyone they know and love.
Get the children needlessly taken away back into their own homes and there will be plenty of room in good, safe foster homes for children in real danger.
Arizona actually relies far too much on what is, by far, the worst form of care, group homes and institutions. The last thing the state needs is more of them. Details are in our report on Arizona child welfare: http://bit.ly/irF2Ny
National Coalition for Child Protection Reform
I left a reply to Wexler's comment-
American Family Rights Association heartily agrees with Richard Wexler.
It is interesting to observe that the FAMILIES are never included in any "task force" that proposes to "fix CPS".
Families who know what CPS really is and how it really operates- the pandemic criminality, perjury, and utter failure of CPS to produce ANYTHING good.
Truly, CPS destroys every life they touch.
When they turn 18, the government throws the kids on the street-
"Have a nice life now. Hope it works out for you. Sorry about the one hundred and four foster homes. Sure hope the medications have helped you get over the twelve rapes you suffered and three kids you saw killed in foster care. Oh by the way, we neglected to teach you any real life skills. Don't call us".
Leonard Henderson, co-founder
American Family Rights
"Until Every Child Comes Home"©
"The Voice of America's Families"©