Arizona child welfare leaders have narrowed their focus in order to fix several problems plaguing the state’s Department of Child Safety.
DCS Director Greg McKay identified five areas of growth Thursday when he laid out the department’s strategic plan for the 2016 fiscal year.
“Each one of these things are equally important and with growth in each one of these areas we are going to see growth in those other areas so I wouldn’t say any one is more important than the other,” McKay said.
The list includes improving objective decision making and employee retention, while reducing foster care length of stay and reoccurring neglect, as well as finding more permanent homes for children.
McKay said all five issues are connected to a broader systemic failure.
“If we don’t address staff turnover then a case worker leaves the organization,” he said. “Then those cases backlog, then a child who is in the system remains in the system longer, then there is no available foster homes for new kids coming into the system.”
A key objective McKay identified is reducing the backlog of cases child welfare workers face while simultaneously reducing employees’ caseloads.
There are currently 14,635 inactive DCS cases. The agency’s strategic plan projects that number will be cut nearly in half by fiscal year 2017.
McKay said he has been working to identify these issues since he was appointed by Governor Doug Ducey in February 2015.
“You know I don’t like to talk about problems … everybody’s heard it but we cannot move about solutions until we understand our problems, that’s what we have been doing,” he said.
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