Lawmakers, Activists Call on Agency Head to Resign Over 6,000 Ignored Child-Abuse Claims
Several activists and Democratic lawmakers are demanding that Arizona Department of Economic Security Director Clarence Carter resign amid the revelation that 6,000 allegations of child abuse weren't investigated.
Carter revealed Thursday that investigators for Child Protective Services (a division of the Department of Economic Security) that the allegations -- many of them made in the past year -- were called in on a CPS hotline and the cases ended up coded in such a way that no investigator would ever even see it.
Many questions haven't been answered, such as why that code, "Not Investigated," or "NI," even existed. Neither Carter nor Office of Child Welfare Investigations Chief Detective Gregory McKay knows who did it, or why they did it, they explained before a CPS Oversight Committee at the state capitol yesterday.
A few Democratic lawmakers have since called for Carter's resignation.
House Minority Leader Chad Campbell said in a statement:
"The magnitude of the failure of CPS, under Director Carter's leadership, is shocking and inexcusable. It is time for him to resign. Reports that about 6,000 complaints of child abuse have not been investigated since 2009 indicate a pattern of negligence that is unacceptable. This needs to be corrected immediately. The Legislature should go into special session now so we can ensure that there is accountability built into CPS processes and that the agency gets the leadership and resources needed to protect Arizona children."
Democratic Representative Ruben Gallego also noted on Twitter that Carter "needs to resign."
"Children are at risk because of his mismanagement," he said.
Activists from Citizens for a Better Arizona (of Russell Pearce recall fame) also marched to Governor Brewer's office today, demanding she call a special legislative session to address the issue, and planned to then take a trip to DES, to demand Carter's resignation.
From CBA President Randy Parraz:
"Instead of relieving Mr. Carter of his duty as Director of the Department of Economic Security, Governor Brewer has chosen to reward Mr. Carter with a second chance to clean up a problem he helped create. If Governor Brewer truly cared about children she would have fired Mr. Carter and called a special session to take swift and immediate action to address this crisis now - even if it means allocating additional funding."
Coincidentally, last year, Governor Jan Brewer patted herself on the back in a press release for signing three CPS-related bills, which were supposed to "revamp the current outdated standards and processes pertaining to child protective services in the State, strengthen the statutory protections and safeguards for Arizona children and, ultimately, work to improve the safety of children under State care or supervision."
The aforementioned Office of Child Welfare Investigations was created with one of those bills, which cost $2.3 million out of the 2013 budget, which was supposed to lead to CPS hiring 28 child-welfare investigators to take on high-priority cases.
Carter said yesterday that he'll have a plan on Monday for how the agency's going to remedy the 6,000 ignored cases.
For more information on where the cases got lost, go to page two.
Below, see the flowchart for how CPS cases operate. Based on what Carter and McKay said yesterday, these 6,000 cases died at step four.
Get the Weekly Newsletter