Things must be pretty miserable when workers quit by the dozen in Arizona’s Child Protection System.

Christine LaCroix’s recent article points out that 30% of CP workers quit each year, and this year, with “massive increase” in child abuse reports has left the department woefully unable to protect Arizona children.  Child protection workers have one of the most difficult jobs in public service according to the Department’s Director, Clarence Carter (and me).  Clarence ends with a statement that we should all have as a motivator to support child protection services and the people that do the work;

“The  things that people can imagine to do to a child are absolutely unconscionable”.

That is exactly what I remember as a volunteer guardian ad-Litem.  Suicidal 4 & 7 year-olds & horribly abused children of all ages.

According to last year’s Child Well Being, Geography Matters;

AZ  ranks –

46th in births to teen moms

40th in late or no prenatal care

36th in child poverty

45th in uninsured children

State after state is failing its youngest and most vulnerable citizens.  This too is unconscionable.
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by Christine LaCroix

azfamily.com

Posted on June 15, 2012 at 6:06 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 15 at 6:07 PM

PHOENIX — Sweeping changes are coming to the Arizona Department of Economic Security’s Child Protective Services division.
The department has seen a massive increase in tips from the public on its hotline.
“That’s good for the safety of children, but our system is not currently configured to handle that kind of volume,” said Clarence Carter, director of CPS and the Department of Economic Security.
The department currently has 785 employees, after a number of case workers resigned in the past few months.
There are currently around 30 job openings, and the department loses an average of nearly 30% of its work force each year, which is higher than the national average for similar offices.
“The truth is we had asked our labor force to do a lot of extra work. About 200,000 hours that had no value,” said Carter.
Carter, in conjunction with Governor Brewer’s task force on child safety, is working to improve the department and maintain workers.
Specifically, there will be continued cutbacks in unnecessary work given to case managers that does not benefit children.
Additionally, the process for handling hotline calls and the investigation process are being revamped.
Carter is also reaching out to law enforcement, the courts, and health care professionals to protect children at every step, and keep clear records of instances of abuse from the start of the investigative process until the finish. However, that is an ongoing process.
“There are places in our state where that relationship is finely tuned, but there are other places where it is not,” he said.
While Carter acknowledges that CPS is working to battle the staffing problems, he noted that there are just some parts of the job that are going to drive workers away, and that is a nationwide problem.
“The things that people can imagine to do to a child are absolutely unconscionable,” said Carter, “this is one of the most difficult jobs in public service.”

 

 

The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona
home : opinions : opinions Share June 19, 2012

6/3/2012 9:55:00 PM
Editorial: Hearings show state of child protection

Another child has died in Arizona, and her mother and her mother’s boyfriend are in jail on child abuse charges.

Phoenix Fire Department personnel went to an apartment this past week when they got a call that a child was not breathing, according to an Associated Press article. Phoenix police say the 4-year-old girl was found with bruises and whip marks and allegedly was the victim of repeated abuse. The mother and her boyfriend now face homicide charges, Phoenix police said.

Arizona’s child welfare system went under the microscope late last year when Gov. Jan Brewer appointed a task force to come up with recommendations for how Child Protective Services could do a better job of safeguarding our state’s vulnerable children.

Two major pieces of legislation came from the task force’s study. House Bill 2721, which the governor signed, provides for a new Office of Child Welfare Investigations, which will employ and train 28 child welfare investigators to handle Arizona’s highest-priority cases of suspected child abuse and neglect. The second measure, House Bill 2794, will improve communications between CPS and law enforcement.

Time will tell how effective these provisions will be in protecting our children at risk.

Here’s what is happening elsewhere, according to The Associated Press. A California judge’s decision to open a county’s child welfare hearings earlier this year has fired up debate among child advocates in other states about whether greater transparency helps or hurts young victims appearing in family court hearing to discuss their futures.

According to Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure Rule 13, Family Court hearings are presumptively open to the public. “However, to promote amicable settlement of the issues, to protect the best interests of a minor child or to protect the family from physical or emotional harm, the court may exclude the public,” the rule states.

Supporters of open hearings say transparency leads to better decisions because the spotlight is on judges, exposes the failings of child welfare workers and allows the public a better understanding of how the system works.

Opponents believe giving the public access to Family Court proceedings will subject children, who are already victims, to even more trauma.

Both sides make good points. Above all, no one wants a child to suffer any more than he or she probably has. So, we have to ask, why can’t the child be removed from a courtroom during proceedings that might cause the child even more distress?

If the public were allowed to witness testimony from CPS caseworkers, watch how judges handle child abuse and neglect cases, and hear parents and guardians defend the allegations against them, we would undoubtedly get a good glimpse of how the system really works and where it might be broken.

Until then, we walk around outraged because our children are still dying.

 

 

 

4 Comments

  1. Child protection system
    The most difficult jobs
    Worker quit
    A motivator

    I pick these words from the article and by connecting them, I find that lacking of building consistent and realistic child protection system with clear defined goals and honest assessment of worker abilities, and needs, is the main reason behind all quit. For me, the most difficult jobs can be easily if leaders (True leaders) can take time to plan and assess their goals, i.e. for children protection,
    Discover real difficulty: open transparent and honest conversation with workers to know what is going on , what are obstacles and do what I called ”Leader is an employee” is the theory of changing your role from leader to an employee and start to work parallel with your worker to minimize job difficulties.

  2. It is a very similar case in Victoria Australia with a high turnover of social workers. Numerous reviews have been conducted over the years in recognition of the need for improvement but little appears to change, other than ongoing cases of lack of child protection and a high turnover of staff, frustrated, burnt out, and overwhelmed.

  3. As public expenditures come under more and more scrutiny, the sad fact is that, by and large, state’s will cut services to the least vocal and under-represented groups. CPS is mind-numbing work for anyone doing it. Success is rewarded by a larger caseload (you know the mentality that says, “you’ve done so well let me give you more cases!”) Alabama has been able to build some caseload standards in state administrative code, so that when cuts are threatened or occur, there is some floor to CPS workers.

  4. I am a CPS Worker, and I have a burning question. There are many child advocacy groups who work to increase outcomes for children and families. Why is no one advocating for Human Service and Child Welfare Agencies to obtain and retain accreditation standards like hospitals, schools, and law enforcement agencies are required to do? Agencies who exercise statutory authority should be required to have minimum standards and training for workers who protect children. Additionally, Agencies should also be required to meet minimum standards in policy, service, and operation. The best programs and unlimited funding would not make a dent in the problems children and families face if the mechanism to disseminate such programs and funding is broken.

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