Lawmakers Make Move to Boost Child Protective Services Funds

Jan 29, 2014

A Senate panel voted Tuesday to provide more funds for the state’s child welfare agency. But, Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer reports there were objections.

Division of Child Safety and Family Services director Charles Flanagan

The measure would immediately add 126 new caseworkers on top of the 1,159 already authorized. Senate President Andy Biggs told the Appropriations Committee this deals with the most critical funding for Child Protective Services, now known as the Division of Child Safety and Family Services. But, Sen. Rick Murphy, who has had his own run-ins with CPS — including having four adopted daughters temporarily removed from his Peoria home and two foster children taken permanently — suggested there are many instances where caseworkers overreact and take children when they should not.

“That makes me question, OK, do we really need to go out and hire a whole bunch of new people if that’s the kind of thing that’s going on and if it’s widespread, or do we need to get priorities in line?” Murphy asked.

Agency director Charles Flanagan acknowledged that overworked caseworkers may sometimes find it easier to remove a child than provide services to the family in home. But, he warned the issue is more complex.

“The corollary of that is, when we don’t take a child from a home and then there are repetitive field investigations and all of a sudden there’s a dead baby, and everybody’s scratching their head and pointing their finger at CPS,” Flanagan said.

The measure now goes to the full Senate.