ARIZONA NEWS

Number of children in Arizona DCS care falls to lowest level in 15 years

Sep 16, 2023, 2:00 PM

(Kampus Production Photo/via Pexels)...

(Kampus Production Photo/via Pexels)

(Kampus Production Photo/via Pexels)

PHOENIX — The number of children in out-of-home care dropped to a 15-year-low, the Arizona Department of Child Safety announced Thursday.

There are currently fewer than 9,900 children who are in out-of-home care in Arizona, according to the announcement.

“This reflects a 53% decrease from a peak of 18,657 kids in 2016,” Arizona DCS said.

“This achievement is a testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in the transformation of Arizona’s child welfare system,” Gov. Katie Hobbs said in a statement.

DCS Director David Lujan was excited to announce the milestone.

“Our goal is to keep children safe and to support families in crisis,” he said in a statement.

“This achievement is a testament to the hard work and dedication of parents, our staff, kinship and foster caregivers, service providers, and community partners,” Lujan said. “We are grateful for their commitment to Arizona’s children.”

Lujan attributed this good news to the department’s efforts to keep families together.

“We have worked hard to provide families with the support they need to stay together,” he said. “We are committed to continuing our efforts to keep children safe and to support families in crisis.”

What else has Arizona DCS done?

Arizona DCS said it has also eliminated its backlog of over 16,000 inactive cases. Additionally, the department overhauled its IT infrastructure, replacing its 25-year-old data management system.

Other notable improvements:

  • A revision of safety assessment model and policies
  • A Court Authorized Removal process that requires Arizona DCS employees to get a court order before removing a child (in most circumstances)
  • Supervisory coaching program
  • A new mobile app to limit employees’ time doing paperwork
  • Boost number of young adults who are part of the voluntary extended foster care program
  • Partnership with Grand Canyon University to develop a full-ride scholarship for foster youth

“We know that there is still work to be done, but we are proud of the progress we have made and are excited about the future,” Lujan said.

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Number of children in Arizona DCS care falls to lowest level in 15 years