The head of the team tasked with watching and helping Child Protective Services process more than 6,500 ignored cases says 119 cases that were previously sitting on the shelf actually necessitated an "immediate response."
Charles Flanagan, the director of Arizona's juvenile corrections, who's been assigned by the governor to run a "CARE Team," to deal with the revelation of ignored CPS cases, provided the update to the CPS oversight committee at the state capitol yesterday.
In one case, a child was removed from his or her mother's home, to be placed in the father's home. Of the 6,554 cases marked "not investigated," and thus ignored, Flanagan's team reported last night that 1,615 of the cases have been assigned, and workers have responded in 730 cases.
In 590 cases, workers were able to get their eyes on the children, which is one of the main goals of going back through these ignored cases.
There are now 12 law enforcement agencies helping to get eyes on the kids, Flanagan said, although the help from police doesn't replace the CPS investigations.
An interesting point about how these investigations will proceed was brought up by Cherie Klavitter, a citizen member of the CPS oversight committee who's also a foster parent. She expressed a concern that some of these cases will be handled with an "alternative investigation," something that reportedly has been said by Department of Economic Security Director Clarence Carter.
Klavitter didn't express much faith in the "alternative investigations," which are done in cases where it's determined that a full investigation isn't necessary.
According to one CPS document:
Prior to an alternative assessment, the child's and family's circumstance may meet one or more of the following criteria: no current safety threat indicated; the perpetrator had no current access to the child(ren) victim; child(ren) were visible in the community; and prior history on the child and family did not indicate a current safety concern to the child.
You can see where this could be a problem, since CPS workers already tagged thousands of cases in such a way that they wouldn't be investigated, although some of them very clearly needed investigation, and some needed to be investigated immediately.
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Meanwhile, Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Robert Halliday told the panel that his agency's administrative investigation of CPS is still under way, and said it would be "inappropriate" to say at what point the agency is in the investigation.
Members of the committee tried to prod Halliday to figure out exactly what this investigation's going to be about, although Halliday didn't really clear that up. He did, however, say that the results of this report would be released directly to Carter. Although it can be released to the public with a public-records request, it certainly seemed strange to some that the investigation would go straight to Carter, whose firing is being called for by several people.
To check in on how the "CARE Team" is processing these cases, Flanagan said the team's website is constantly being updated with the latest statistics, at azcareteam.az.gov.