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Final Word: Don’t take funds from kids to fix CPS

The recent problems at CPS have the Arizona Legislature looking for a fix.

The fact that 6,000 reports of alleged child abuse went UNinvestigated caused alarm, as it should have. The department held hearings, Gov. Jan Brewer pledged to get to the bottom of the problem and Arizona residents have asked for the head of the Department of Economic Security to resign.

How to address the problems at CPS? No one really seems to know.

Callers to our Take 20 line on Rob & Karie said the workers at CPS are working too hard, taking on too many cases and don’t have the authority to adequately protect kids. Others said that CPS is poorly run and needs to be reorganized or completely blown up.

John Kavanaugh, a Republican legislator from Fountain Hills, wants to take money from another state department, one that funds something called Arizona First Things First. He wants a quarter of the department’s budget, or $33 to $45 million, to help fix CPS.

Problem is, those funds are used to get at-risk kids ready for school and keep them there. It services many low-income families, including scholarships for daycare and services for healthcare and family support. It was created by voters with funding from the state’s tobacco tax.

One of the daycare facilities that gets funding from First Things First is Phoenix Day. This childcare facility said that the money they get helps kids enter school ready to succeed, so they can keep up with the kids from the wealthier neighborhoods. Most of these kids come from poor neighborhoods and 15 percent of them are under CPS care already.

Doesn’t it make sense that spending money on these kids BEFORE things go south for them and their families is less expensive and more effective than spending money on case management when they are 14 and their family situation has deteriorated beyond repair?

It’s about as smart as spending money on the prison instead of the classroom.

Find the money for fix CPS somewhere else. It shouldn’t take $45 million and it shouldn’t come from the money that’s voters approved, in part, to prevent the child abuse in the first place.