- Associated Press - Monday, July 20, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) - A comprehensive audit of Arizona’s Department of Child Safety has found that new funding is necessary in order to address the problems facing the agency.

Senate President Andy Biggs, who called for an audit of the agency in 2014 and sponsored legislation appropriating $250,000 for the study, said he is disappointed with the report, which was conducted by the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago.

The Gilbert Republican has repeatedly declared that more money isn’t the solution to the agency’s problems. He wants officials to further examine what requires the state to initially intervene in families’ lives, reported Arizona Capitol Times (https://bit.ly/1LyD5UD).

“They didn’t really get at any of the stuff that I thought was important,” Biggs said. “I could’ve gone out and asked all those local stakeholders what do you think, and they all would’ve told me we need to spend more money. And that’s basically what Chapin Hall put together.”

Biggs is working on tightening the state’s definition of neglect, which he said is too broad, as well as other policy changes to help the agency.

Rep. Kate Brophy McGee, who serves on the Child Safety Oversight Committee, said she would be open to hearing a discussion on what the state deems as neglect. However, she recognizes that new funding is crucial in order to solve the issues facing DCS.

“Undoubtedly it will take more money,” said Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix. “Perhaps the frustration is, if it’s going to take more money, where do we put it? How do we make sure that we direct the resources where they need to go?”

Among other findings in the audit were recommendations to increase support for an early intervention program, provide more in-home services to families, and to increase the number of case workers.

Arizona’s Department of Child Safety was created in 2014 in response to criticism over the state’s handling of child abuse and neglect cases.

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Information from: Arizona Capitol Times, https://www.arizonacapitoltimes.com


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