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County attorney hoping child welfare gets nod

PHOENIX — One man who is hoping for approval on a new child welfare service in Arizona is Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

He said, as far back as 2003, Child Protective Services was a mess.

“Efforts were not enough to change the culture and underscore the focus, which is intervening as soon as possible and providing preventive services so that cases don’t escalate to a point where you have criminal conduct allegations involved,” he said. “Where you have to remove a child because the environment is no longer safe for them.”

Montgomery said he’s proud to have been a part of the team that helped come up with the plan for the Department of Child Safety.

“What is being provided for the Legislature’s consideration represents the best of everybody working hard in the best interests of Arizona’s children.”

Montgomery said he hopes the new department will mean his department will no longer have to investigate certain kinds of cases.

“I’d prefer if we never got another cases where a child has been killed and there’s been previous interaction with the child welfare system,” he said.

The Arizona Legislature is expected to vote Thursday on whether to approve Gov. Jan Brewer’s proposed Department of Child Safety. It would replace Child Protective Services, which Brewer abolished last year after it failed to investigate thousands of possible child abuse cases.

The plan received initial approval on Wednesday.