Jan Brewer Promises "Transparent and Independent Oversight" of Ignored CPS Cases
With another day comes another promise that something is going to be done about the thousands of ignored child abuse and neglect allegations phoned in to Child Protective Services over the past few years.
Governor Jan Brewer held a press conference this morning to explain her plan to deal with the crisis, or, as she called it, a need to "know where all the bodies are buried."
(Brewer noted that she didn't mean that in a literal sense; CPS officials have said that no child died due to a report that wasn't investigated.)
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Although there's already a CPS oversight committee, Brewer named several people tasked with providing oversight mostly over these more than 6,000 ignored cases.
Here it is, as explained in a statement from Brewer's office:
. . .[The] independent Child Advocate Response Examination Team (CARE Team) that is charged with providing oversight for the investigations of cases that were designated as "not investigated" by Arizona Child Protective Services (CPS). The independent CARE Team also will examine the CPS system to identify areas of concern. The review will include consideration of personnel, operations, processes, and policies. Once areas of improvement are identified, the team will submit a summary of its finding to Governor Brewer.
Today, Brewer patted herself on the back for the discovery of the ignored cases, as the find was made by CPS' Office of Child Welfare Investigations, which was created via legislation recommended by Brewer's "Child Safety Task Force."
The Office of Child Welfare Investigations found all these cases had been marked "Not Investigated," so they'd never see an investigator's desk. It seems that officials -- from Brewer to the head of the Office of Child Welfare Investigations -- don't know how this happened, but it's already subject to an "administrative review" by the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
Meanwhile, Brewer said today that people shouldn't blame the caseworkers for the problem, since these caseworkers already are overworked, and handling more cases than they're supposed to.
And although some Democrats and even Brewer-appointed Department of Economic Security Director Clarence Carter have called for more funding for more caseworkers, Brewer said today the real problem is "the failure of our society to value and treasure every child's life."
In the meantime, CPS plans on using other current employees to investigate the previously ignored cases, although it's unclear what job those people will be putting aside to look into these cases.
Despite this new oversight panel, little has been said about how these 6,000-plus cases were ignored, other than the "Not Investigated" tag, let alone who's responsible.
Below, you can read the names of the people on this new team:
The CARE Team is chaired by Charles Flanagan, Director of the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections. Other team members include Arizona State Senator Leah Landrum Taylor; Arizona State Representative Kate Brophy McGee; Robert Bell, Children's Justice Coordinator at the Childhelp Children's Center of Arizona; Cindi Nannetti, a veteran prosecutor with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office; Deb Gullett, child advocate and former legislator; Greg McKay, Chief of the Office of Child Welfare Investigations (OCWI); Jan Strauss, a former Mesa Police Chief; and a CPS representative (TBD).
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