Flanagan says inspections, transparency are top priorities for new child protection bureau

Jan 15, 2014, 7:07 PM | Updated: 7:07 pm

LISTEN: Charles Flanagan - Director of the Division of Child and Family Services

PHOENIX — Admitting that Arizona’s Child Protective Services is “broken” during her State of the State address on Monday, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer abolished the agency, creating a new one in its place.

The new division, dubbed Child Safety and Family Services, will be run by Charles Flanagan, former Juvenile Corrections Director, pending legislative approval.

Flanagan spoke with 92.3 KTAR’s Mac and Gaydos on Tuesday afternoon regarding what will make the new department different from CPS and how soon the changes will take effect.

Flanagan admitted that Child Safety and Family Services needs a lot of work to get back on track, but this new step in the right direction will help them “gain the momentum to create the environment that would prevent something like the not-investigated cases from ever happening again and to solve the problems that are, quite frankly, myriad and span many years with CPS.”

Flanagan has already taken command in his new role, making sure the CARE team Brewer put in place to monitor CPS continues to review uninvestigated cases. He has also reached out to those who will be affected most by the new department.

“We’ve been to Yuma, to Tucson, here in Phoenix,” Flanagan said. “We’ve met with providers all over the state, we’ve met with foster parents, we’ve met with employees through survey and many other mechanisms, and we’re putting together a list of things that need to happen that we can implement immediately and others, such as the one that the governor has set before the Legislature that require legislative action.”

Flanagan’s second step in ensuring uninvestigated cases never happen again? Transparency within the department.

“[W]e will achieve transparency,” Flanagan explained. “We will achieve compliance with the law, we will achieve a system that is efficient and effective and we hope to achieve, through working with legislation and with stakeholders, a statute that clearly defines what’s expected of the employees of CPS and that will then define the policies that we follow.”

Part of Flanagan’s transparency plan is to install an inspections process that ultimately answers to him.

“I intend to implement an inspections process that is overseen only by the director of the agency and is not influenced by another entity within the agency or the people in the chain of command,” Flanagan said. “So, having an inspections bureau that reports to me, we’ll be able to ensure policy compliance, as well as statutory compliance.”

Another big problem with the old CPS was the ratio of cases to workers, leaving the caseworkers that hadn’t abandoned the agency to be severely overworked.

“This is an enormously large organization, and in particular right now, what’s happened is there are case workers, there are investigators in the field that are carrying caseloads that are nearly double what should be carried,” Flanagan explained.

Brewer will release the budget on Friday, outlining what the specific needs are for the new department.

“We definitely know how many case workers we need, we know what resources we need to support them,” Flanagan said. “We know that the caseloads have to be reasonable and have to be approached in a way that will ensure that these children are safe.”

But even if the Legislature approves the new division and budget allotments, Flanagan said even if he had all the budget in the world, it is still transparency that is the key to the department’s success, not money.

“Having the resources is not the answer,” Flanagan asserted. “The answer is making sure that we are completely transparent and that the Legislature and the people in Arizona know what that money is being spent for and what determines what that money is being used for will be the caseloads, will be the work that we have to do.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Live Love is a nonprofit dedicated to improving local communities. (Live Love photos/via Facebook)...

David Veenstra

Chandler approves long-term partnership for new community center development

The city of Chandler reached an agreement with nonprofit Live Love to be able to use a new community center currently being developed. 

4 hours ago

southern Arizona rancher George Alan Kelly...

Associated Press

Jurors don’t have a verdict yet in an Arizona rancher’s trial for fatally shooting a migrant

A jury in southern Arizona is still deliberating in the trial of a rancher charged with fatally shooting an unarmed migrant on his property near the U.S.-Mexico border.

6 hours ago

During an earnings call on April 18, 2024, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. said engineer...

Amy Edelen/Phoenix Business Journal

Wafer production underway at TSMC’s Phoenix factory; Q1 earnings beat expectations

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. is making “significant progress” on its north Phoenix site with engineering wafer production already underway.

8 hours ago

Repeat killer sentenced to life in prison after murdering girlfriend...

Tempe man sentenced to life in prison for murdering girlfriend

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office said it sentenced Gary Cox, 60, a repeat killer, to life in prison for murdering his girlfriend.

9 hours ago

Mugshot of Alvin Massenburg II, who was arrested April 17, 2024, in connection with a fatal shootin...

Suspect arrested 2 days after deadly shooting at Phoenix smoke shop

An arrest has been made in a Phoenix smoke shop shooting that left one man dead earlier this week, authorities announced Friday.

10 hours ago

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes speaks to reporters in Phoenix after the state Supreme Court up...

Kevin Stone

Arizona’s near-total abortion ban can’t be enforced before June 8, AG Kris Mayes tells providers

Arizona's near-total abortion ban can't be enforced before June 8, the state's top legal officer told medical providers this week.

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.


Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

Flanagan says inspections, transparency are top priorities for new child protection bureau