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State Lawmakers To Consider Child Welfare Overhaul

Ross D. Franklin/AP

State lawmakers return to the Capitol today to consider the plan by Gov. Jan Brewer for a new child welfare agency. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer reports.

Brewer acknowledged there have been many attempts to fix what until now has been Child Protective Services. But, the governor told Arizona Public Radio this time is different. Why?

“Because I’m behind it. I think that I am dedicated, I am very motivated after dealing with this personally as an elected official for over 33 years. That we are through with Band-Aids, we are through with turning a blind eye,” she said.

That fresh start would create a new Department of Child Safety, rewrite existing laws and impose new oversight to ensure there’s no repeat of 6,500 abuse and neglect complaints going uninvestigated. But there’s a price tag: $60 million on top of $59 million lawmakers approved just last month to provide for the coming year — on top of $65 million added for the current year. Brewer said the funding is justified.

“It was very diligently compiled, those figures, of what it was going to take to get this agency established and turned around and for us to be able to take care of those children. And I believe, conservatively, that is the dollars that we need.”

The session begins this afternoon.

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