- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 7, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) - The head of Arizona’s Department of Child Safety says he knows the agency has problems, but they were caused by previous administrations.

In a memo sent Friday to department stakeholders and child welfare organizations, Director Greg McKay said criticism of his administration from media and stakeholders were an unfair characterization, the Arizona Capitol Times reports (https://bit.ly/1FTv9NU ).

“Contrary to sentiments expressed in the news and by various stakeholders, the current DCS administration was not surprised by the findings, we furnished them,” McKay said, adding that “these issues were created over time by a variety of factors and decisions of past administrations.”

Gov. Doug Ducey appointed McKay as director in February.

A Sept. 30 report by the Auditor General’s Office found that the agency doesn’t have a uniform set of guidelines for caseworkers to follow when evaluating a child’s safety risk. Case workers write descriptions of what they’ve observed, but a lack of specific criteria could lead to poor decision-making.

The report also noted a lack of services to support families and children as well as inadequate training for supervisors and caseworkers.

McKay said the agency is working to correct many of the issues found in the audit and that many were already in the process of being corrected when the audit began.

“We understand the public and our stakeholders have become weary of crisis and want results now,” McKay said. “We must manage our desires for quick fixes and commit to long term sustainable changes.”

Rep. Kate Brophy McGee, who serves on the Child Safety Oversight Committee that acts as a DCS watchdog, said she understands McKay’s frustration as he’s only been at the head of the agency for about eight months.

“We are finally clearly seeing what the problems are across the agency - there are many of them, they go back a long way and they go very deep,” she said.


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

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