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(AP Photo/Gero Breloer)
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Arizona Department of Child Safety works to decrease backlog of cases, wait times

(AP Photo/Gero Breloer)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Child Safety has reported a decreased number of backlogs to showcase its efforts of tackling the excessive amount of inactive cases.

Spokesman Doug Nick said the department is currently at 11,000 “and falling” backlogged cases, down from 16,000-plus nearly a year ago.

Nick said relocating well-trained employees who understand social services and putting them out in the field has allowed the agency to catch up on its inactive cases and provide easier access to the services provided.

“Rather than have (employees) spending more time than need be on paperwork and documentation and things like that — which is part of the job — but if we can get them out in the field more, that’s a definite win,” he said.

Since October 2015, the department has been closing an average of 1,500 reports per month over new reports that come into the agency. Nick said as a result, caseworkers are being freed up to focus more time on the children and families in need.

“Since July 2015, the number of families waiting to get services has dropped by more than 77 percent.” Nick said. “So as a result, children (and) families are the getting the help they need a lot quicker and crises are being averted.”

The Arizona Department of Child Safety was created in May 2014 during a special legislative session after director Greg McKay blew the whistle on the agency for its failure to investigate nearly 7,000 cases.

McKay and the agency were under fire in 2015 after the director stood in front of a legislative committee and said the 52,000 new cases received each year were “impossible to eradicate” using the agency’s current capacity.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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