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Brewer mulls Child Protective Services restructuring

Associated Press

Gov. Jan Brewer is weighing whether Child Protective Services needs to be split into a separate agency headed by someone who reports directly to her. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer reports.

The idea is not new. Rick Romley suggested it more than a decade ago when he was Maricopa County Attorney. But it is getting new attention in the wake of findings that 6,500 complaints of child abuse over four years went uninvestigated. Rep. Kate Brophy McGee, who chairs a special oversight panel, added her voice this week, saying CPS clearly needs more focused attention than can be provided by someone whose agency also includes everything from food-stamp eligibility to unemployment insurance. Gubernatorial press aide Andrew Wilder said his boss is looking at the issue.

“There might be momentum to do something like that now because of uncovering of problems like this within CPS,” Wilder said. “It underscores what we’ve known: that there has to be serious fundamental changes at the agency. Separating it may be one.”

There also have been calls for Brewer to fire Clarence Carter, director of Arizona’s Department of Economic Security, the agency that oversees CPS. But, Wilder said there will be no actions against anyone until completion of investigations by the Department of Public Safety and a special team the governor herself appointed.

“There will be plenty of time to understand what reforms and discuss accountability once it is known what happened and who’s responsible,” Wilder said. 

Completion of both is at least weeks away.

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