State Workers Fired for Child Welfare Case Mismanagement

Apr 23, 2014

Six state workers associated with the ignoring of nearly 6,600 reports of child abuse were fired today. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports.

Charles Flanagan, head of the new Division of Child Safety and Family Services.
Credit Capitol Media Services file photo by Howard Fischer

Charles Flanagan, head of the new Division of Child Safety and Family Services, said five were people working for him. An investigation by the Department of Public Safety found they were instrumental in crafting and implementing a policy of ignoring state laws which require all complaints be investigated. He said there was no evidence of malicious intent, but simply an effort to deal with what he said was a crushing workload.

“And so they made a decision, a very bad one, a dysfunctional decision, to remove cases from the field, by taking those reports, reviewing them, based on very nebulous, amorphous rules,” Flanagan said. 

Flanagan said what made the problem worse is they not only broke the law with the goal of prioritizing cases, they didn’t even do a very good job of it. In following up on those nearly 6,600 uninvestigated complaints, child welfare workers later removed 550 children from their homes. Flanagan said the DPS report confirms that changes were needed.

“This organization was sick and was not healthy and needed to be completely overhauled. And that’s what we’re in the business of doing,” he said.

The sixth person fired was a deputy director at the Department of Economic Security with oversight of child welfare.