- Associated Press - Thursday, May 22, 2014

PHOENIX (AP) - Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Thursday called for a special legislative session to enact a proposed overhaul of the state’s child welfare system. The proposal was prompted by years of problems at the state’s Child Protective Services agency which were highlighted by the November discovery that more than 6,500 abuse and neglect reports that were not investigated.

Here are five key parts of Brewer’s overhaul proposal:

NEW AGENCY

Establishes a stand-alone agency focused solely on child welfare, called the Department of Child Safety. The agency would be charged with investigating reports of abuse and neglect, promoting child safety, and ensuring that children are either kept in a safe family home or placed in permanent housing.

FUNDING

Boosts the state child welfare budget by $55 million in the budget year beginning July 1, bringing spending to $827 million. Spending just two years before was $626 million.

NON-PARENTS

Allows the department to investigate abuse reports involving a non-parent who lives in the home, often called the “bad boyfriend” scenario. Current state law only allows parents or legal guardians to be investigated by child welfare workers.

AUDITS AND TRAINING

Creates accountability standards department-wide, including creation of inspections bureau, required outside audits and training of hotline and investigations staff.

LEGAL

Allows the director to contract out services and hire legal counsel outside the state Attorney General’s office.


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