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Child Protective Services chaos presents a great opportunity for Arizona

CPS in Arizona is in greater crisis and chaos than any time in memory. A perfect storm of recessionary budget cutbacks, historical neglect, increasing referrals, neglected cases and backlog, an out-of-control foster care caseload, and chaotic management have put thousands of children at risk, left families without support, and created an unprecedented crisis for Arizona’s vulnerable children without any clear vision or immediate resolution in sight.

There is a great opportunity in this terrible crisis to finally do what is necessary for Arizona’s children and families.

There is no doubt that CPS requires substantial additional resources, new and significantly improved management and structural reforms to address the historical neglect and increasing demands upon CPS. However, CPS cannot be separated from its larger context of the needs of families to prevent and respond to domestic violence, homelessness, unemployment, elder care, disability or the housing crisis. More than 65 percent of current CPS requests are for neglect. These children and families demand a larger comprehensive service response than just more caseworkers and criminal investigators.

The deep cuts to the health and human services safety net have all negatively impacted the CPS system. Without an adequate safety net, the CPS system does not have the broader community resources to do its assigned job for children with families. Moreover, families do not have the community support systems to avoid getting involved in the CPS system.

The solutions to CPS and child welfare reform are well known. The solutions must be grounded in evidence-based best practices from prevention and early intervention services to permanence planning. The solutions are systemic and include a generously funded health and human services safety net and community resources. Child Welfare and CPS policy and practice must not pit children against their families, but focus on the child in a safe, stable, permanent family context.

The dignity, complexity, and difficulty of the child welfare work and the worker must be honored through strong compensation and benefit packages. Professional child welfare management with deep and broad experience is necessary with provisions for long-term appointments after serious vetting.

While structural alternatives like a new department of “child welfare” must be considered along with all other reasonable alternatives, such structural options are not the panacea and final answer. Moreover, any movement toward a new or separate department must not result in the abandonment of the basic needs safety net or minimize any further commitments to assisting people who are poor and struggling, whether they are children, people with disabilities; elderly or children not involved in the CPS system. Reforming CPS must include investments to help eliminate poverty, hunger, homelessness, and family violence as part of the preventive base of community supports to families in crisis.

Finally, there must be the sustained political will to invest in a quality child welfare system with a substantial long-term commitment to resources and professional management. CPS must not be abandoned once again with short-term politically expedient fixes without a long-term plan and promise to Arizona’s children and families.

Timothy J. Schmaltz is coordinator and executive director of the Protecting Arizona’s Family Coalition (PAFCO).

One comment

  1. I don’t thank CPS will ever change and CPS is just not ever going to get better and help. I thank CPS should be investigated and have to have all the old files opened by the FBI and this is way I myself was a child in the system of CPS here in Tucson, Arizona as a baby and then again at age 6 and aged out of the system at age 18 and became homeless. I was raped and abused in CPS care and as a child I was told I have PTSD and never got treatment for my PTSD till I went down and got it myself when I was 18 years old. Now I had a baby on July 18,2005 she was 6lb 0oz and 19 hafe inches long and her name was Keysanna CPS took her when she was 1 month 2 weeks and 6 days old they took her on September 7,2005 because Dr. Teresa Longoria M,D had the rang info of her birth weight she said My daughter was a Non-Organic Failure to Thrive because she said my daughter weight at birth was 6lb 9oz and her weight now was 7lb 10oz she said my daughter had gained less then 2lb since birth and had fallen off the growth curve I went down to the St. Joseph Hospital to look at the Medical Records and got a copy of my medical records of giving birth and the weight at birth was 6lb 0oz an d I still have the copy of medical records.I was 19 years old when CPS took my First Child and the CPS worker Substantiated that case with out telling me. On September 29,2006 I had a second baby her name was Shalaneya she was taken a hour after she was born at St. Joseph Hospital Because I had a open case and because I have PTSD That case was Unsubstantiated. My daughters Keysanna and Shalaneya where adopted on May 16, 2007 and May 29,2007. I still talk to the adopted parents and still see them some time in the year and get I pictures of them. On My 8,2008 I gave birth to my 3rd baby his name was Ryan He was taken from me at TMC after birth with no case open and all they said was I’m not able to parent because of my PTSD that case was also Unsubstantiated Ryan was adopted by the same family that adopted my first 2 daughters. On May 10,2009 I gave birth to my 4th child her name was Ariel CPS took her at UMC from me because of my open case and my PTSD. that case was also Unsubstantiated Ariel lives in Kentucky with my ex boyfriends parents and I do not get to see her because of my ex parents said that if I go to Kentucky that I will be killed and found in a dich in a week if I do. On May 11, 2011 I gave birth to my 5th child her name was Macqueila she has the same father as Ariel CPS took her from me at UMC after birth and told me they got a call saying that I was going to kill myself and the baby the ones that called was made by my ex boyfriend and his mother they where not even in Arizona the people at UMC told CPS that was not true and the faster mother that took my daughter from UMC was a witness to that and the case worker Substantiated that case and that case is now closed Macqueila live with her father here in Tucson Arizona and I only see her when the father lets me even with court ordered visits I some time don’t see my daughter for weeks at a time. On September 5,2012 my 6th child was born his name is Everett he was also taken aft er birth for the same thing because I have PTSD and a long history of Cps in my life and none of my children are living with me my son was given to his father and he is also my boyfriend still we could not live together because of CPS and we where trying to change the court orders and then CPS took our son again on October 29,2013 at 10:30am the CPS worker ripped my rob off my body and then told me to get dressed my boyfriend and I never told her to come in to the home. the case number for all of my cases is JD-175094. all of this that has happened to me is cruel and unusual punishments. I need help to stop this for my children and for my self and my health the use of my PTSD is like CPS telling me that I was rapped and it’s your falt and you can’t have a child or a family because you where rapped in the CPS system it’s not helping me when CPS uses that and that is NOT IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD OR THE FAMILY THIS IS CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT FOR BOTH MY CHILD AND M Y FAMILY

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