CPS reduces major backlog of cases
Lawmakers consider proposals to improve agency
Reporter: Claire Doan
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV/AP) – Child Protective Services says it’s making huge strides by reducing an extensive backlog of cases, after Governor Jan Brewer formed a task force last fall to reform the agency.
CPS has cut the number of inactive cases by 73 percent, from 9,000 cases down to roughly 2,700 since August of last year. The Department of Economic Security, which oversees CPS, cites staff turnover, a cumbersome paperwork system and economic factors that contributed to the backlog.
The announcement comes as lawmakers consider dozens of proposals to help the much-scrutinized agency, including one that would create an oversight committee to improve the CPS and possibly privatize it. Another would provide grandparents a stipend for raising their grandchildren.
“It was obviously very necessary for child safety and it was a very good thing that they stepped up and recognized the danger of these backlogs,” said Dana Wolfe Naimark, the President and CEO of Children’s Action Alliance. “What I’m concerned about is that the factors that contributed to those backlogs building up are still there.”
9 On Your Side asked CPS what it’s doing to prevent another backlog.
“We’re working very hard to fill the agency. We’ve really stepped up the retention within the division and we’ve made some system improvements,” said Deborah Harper, a CPS program manager.
She added that the investigative team will stay on board to support the agency, and that new leadership recently has helped improve morale.
Naimark said that along with the state needing to provide CPS with the financial backing and resources necessary for caseworkers to do their job, lawmakers must also be held accountable.
“It’s certainly fair and appropriate to hold CPS accountable to the job we want them to do, but we also have to hold our lawmakers accountable because they are the ones who either do or do not give CPS the tools they need,” Naimark said.
Governor Brewer’s latest budget includes $3.7 million dollars for CPS, which would in part fund more investigators to help the agency.