PHOENIX — An Arizona lawmaker said she has more questions than answers after reviewing a plan from Child Protective Services to revisit about 6,000 reports of child abuse that went uninvestigated.
“My concern continues to be we have got to get eyes on these children, these 6,00 children. We have to find a way at least to do a health and safety check,” Arizona Rep. Kate Brophy McGee told News/Talk 92.3 KTAR’s Mac & Gaydos Friday.
Brophy McGee, who is the co-chair of the CPS Oversight Committee, said the Jan. 31 goal to review all 6,000 cases seems a bit farfetched considering the agency’s case load.
“How did they come up with a plan when they have a backlog of 10,000 to 12,000 cases,” she asked.
The cases will have to be investigated by CPS workers, but a lot of them already have too much on their plate.
“I know these case workers are way above what their case load average should be,” she said. “I know they’re working hard out in the field, I know they’re stressed and to sit there and say ‘Okay, by the way, here comes another 3,000 cases we think you ought to be investigating now’ exacerbates the problem.”
Brophy McGee said law enforcement officials could help with simple welfare checks and to get as many eyes as possible on children who may be in danger.
Her committee has sent questions to the agency’s head, Clarence Carter, and are awaiting a response. But Brophy McGee’s concerns stretches further than just logistics.
“My other concern is trying to understand who will be doing this in CPS because there appears to be a cadre of CPS workers that shelved these cases inappropriately to begin with,” she said, adding that she had been assured the workers who initially shoved the cases aside would not be involved. About 3,000 of the uninvestigated cases were filed within the last year.
The problems in CPS apparently run deep. Brophy McGee called the ignored cases a “systemic breakdown” that is part of a confidential organization that’s run amok.
“My concern is that that confidential piece has moved too far, to the point of being cloaked in secrecy and totally lacking transparency and totally lacking oversight,” she said.
However, some eyes have begun to look at Brophy McGee’s committee and wonder if they’re possibly at fault. The lawmaker denied this, saying the committee is basically in place to oversee spending.
“Our accountability as a legislature is to responsibly weigh the funding requests,” she said, adding that the committee now has a new role.
“I think it’s also incumbent upon us not to react, not to grandstand, not to politicize this and I think it’s important that, as we put these finds in, we evaluate how they’re being spent.”
Brophy McGee said CPS was granted the funds the agency claimed it needed.