Arizona’s child welfare system needs to offer a variety of services to combat unmanageable caseloads and future child abuse, according to children’s advocates.
Representatives of several advocacy organizations met in Phoenix Friday to discuss Gov. Jan Brewer’s recent updates to the system and future legislation.
Among the changes, the state Legislature appropriated an additional $6.8 million to hire new CPS caseworkers. Advocates argued money should also be set aside to fund more parenting classes, counseling and affordable childcare.
“We are concerned about the number of removals, the lack of resources going to keep families intact, to address family needs to help them keep the children safely at home,” said Emily Jenkins, president and CEO of the Arizona Council of Human Service Providers.
Earlier this year, Brewer asked legislators to create an independent child welfare agency, which would respond directly to her.
Dana Naimark, president and CEO of the Children’s Action Alliance, said she hopes lawmakers will include input from the community and child welfare experts.
“It’s going to take a lot of time and effort and one law is not going to fix the system,” Naimark said. “I think what’s really key for this legislative session is what is the framework we are setting up for the future.”