The Director of the Arizona Department of Economic Security, which oversees child welfare, is under fire for the non-investigation of 6,110 reports of child abuse between 2009 and 2013.
Response to this news has been met with shock and concern. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer called the uninvestigated cases “unconscionable,” and said “This is absolutely unacceptable. I do not want to see the lights off at CPS until this is done.”
Some lawmakers have questioned the ability of CPS to timely investigate the reports of suspected abuse. The Department of Economic Security has claimed that it has reviewed all of the cases from 2013. Of those 2,919 cases, 125 involved follow-up reports are repeated child abuse.
Apparently the backlog of cases resulted from a new procedure implemented within the agency – whereby reports could be classified as “Not Investigated.” It appears that this practice was started and 2009 by a team that was brought in to reduce the agency’s workload.
We Find This “Not Investigated” Practice to Be Horrific
We agree with Gov. Brewer’s assertion that it is “unconscionable” as to how a state agency can simply disregard its fundamental obligation to protect the welfare of children by completely ignoring more than 6,000 reports of potential abuse. It is unimaginable to us as to how many children may have suffered from terrible abuse simply because the state chose not to do its job.
If only one child suffered from horrific abuse because of this tragic neglect, this would be one child to many. Based upon the investigation of nearly 3,000 reports that occurred during 2013, it appears that at least 125 cases involved substantiated abuse. If the statistics remain constant for the other 3,000+ cases that need to be investigated, it will likely be that there were at least 250 cases of abuse.
A Primary Focus of Our Firm is to Stop Child Abuse from Occurring Through Requiring State Agencies to Properly Do Their Job
Agencies charged with protecting child welfare should never be excused from doing their job under any circumstances. If new caseworkers are required because of a heavy caseload of reports, they should be hired. Caseworkers and administrators should be thoroughly trained in how to handle all manner of suspected abuse and environments that pose a threat to children.
Technology should be implemented to share valuable information concerning those who have been convicted of abuse or sexual assault, not only within agencies, but also between states. Those who have abused children, or who are suspected of having committed abuse, should not be able to escape from the focus of CPS in one state merely by moving to another state, where they may continue child abuse.
Credit for Article – Los Angeles Times, Arizona to investigate why 6,000 child abuse reports were ignored, November 26, 2013, http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-arizona-child-abuse-20131126,0,259928.story#axzz2mFXEFue8.