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Bipartisan Opposition To AZ Child Abuse Complaints

A plan by the Department of Economic Security to deal with a backlog of uninvestigated child abuse complaints is getting bipartisan reaction - in opposition. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports.

In a report to legislators, DES Director Clarence Carter said he can have all 6,000 cases preliminarily reviewed by Monday. And he said all can be investigated to the extent necessary by the end of January. But, Republican Senator Nancy Barto said she questions how thorough a job the agency can do.

And Democratic Representative Debbie McCune Davis said details are lacking on how that work will be done - especially on top of an existing backlog of 10,000 cases that already are not getting attention. Davis said, "the critical issue is to make sure that the cases that were improperly directed get reviewed and resolved and investigations be completed. We need to hear from the director that other cases that are part of the backlog are also getting addressed."

Some Democrats also want an immediate special investigative session to give CPS additional funding to deal with the problem. But, Andrew Wilder, press aide to Governor Jan Brewer, said she does not believe that's necessary. "There's a process in place to tackle the immediate task at hand," Wilder said, "which is making sure that each of those lost 6,000 cases are thoroughly investigated."

Wilder would not address Barto's comments, but said Democrats' calls for additional cash are "a predictable, tired solution."