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Independent investigation into 6,600 Arizona child abuse cases completed

PHOENIX — An independent investigation into nearly 6,600 cases of child abuse that went uninvestigated in Arizona has been completed.

Gov. Jan Brewer’s Child Advocate Response Examination (CARE) Team announced Thursday all 6,596 uninvestigated reports received between 2009 and 2013 had been followed up on by officials.

“The completion of these investigations is a significant milestone and clearly demonstrates the heart and dedication that our staff and the CARE Team have for ensuring the safety of Arizona’s vulnerable children,” said Department of Child Safety Director Charles Flanagan in a press release. “This effort came at a significant cost to employees who are already overburdened with high caseloads and yet they came forward and offered to assist with these investigations.”

In the course of the investigation, more than 12,800 children were seen. About 350 cases resulted in the removal of 582 children from their homes.

The cases were originally marked “NI,” or not investigated, by case workers at the now-dissolved Child Protective Services. They were then filed away and no follow up was conducted. After an agency investigation reveled the lag in cases, Brewer called the agency “broken” and created a new division of child safety that reported directly to her.

In the wake of the scandal, at least five CPS workers were fired. Those workers later said they were considering a lawsuit because they were nothing more than scapegoats.

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