Budget Encourages Legislature to Revisit Child Welfare Funds

Apr 8, 2014

The budget plan adopted Monday night contains less money than Gov. Jan Brewer wanted for child welfare. But, as Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer reports, this won’t be the last word on the subject.

Gov. Jan Brewer
Credit huffingtonpost.com

Brewer had sought more than $80 million in additional funds for creation of a new Department of Child Welfare and Family Services from the ashes of the old Child Protective Services. Lawmakers gave her about $58 million — and a promise of sorts to revisit the issue after a special committee comes out with a report next month on how the new agency should operate. Democratic Rep. Lela Alston said that’s nice, but that it fails to recognize there are immediate needs, like more funds for subsidized daycare for working poor who have nowhere else to leave a child.

“You leave them at home alone. You leave them in a car. You leave them with a boyfriend. You leave them in unsafe places where they can be damaged, where they can be unsafe, where they can be mauled by dogs,” Alston said.

Republican Rep. Ethan Orr agreed spending for that needs to be increased.

“These are programs that put people to work. These are programs that are one of the best ways of getting people off of the welfare dole and into a competitive job,” Orr said.

But Orr, unlike Alston, voted for the state budget anyway, saying he is confident the issue will be revisited after release of that report and a special legislative session to fund the new agency.