Saturday, February 2, 2013

Arizona State Senate Issue Paper

December 4, 2012
Arizona Senate Research Staff, 1700 W. Washington, Phoenix, AZ 85007 •1-800-352-8404 •602-926-3171
Note to Reader:
The Senate Research Staff
provides nonpartisan, objective
legislative research, policy
analysis and related assistance
to the members of the Arizona
State Senate. TheResearch
Briefsseries, which includes the
Issue Brief, Background Brief
andIssue Paper, is intended to
introduce a reader to various
legislatively related issues and
provide useful resources to
assist the reader in learning
more on a given topic. Because
of frequent legislative and
executive activity, topics may
undergo frequent changes.
Additionally, nothing in the
Briefshould be used to draw
conclusions on the legality of an
Child Protective Services (CPS) is part of the Arizona
Department of Economic Security (DES) Division of Children,
Youth and Families. The statutory purposes of CPS are: 1) to
protect children by investigating allegations of abuse and neglect,
promoting the well-being of the child in a permanent home and
coordinating services to strengthen the family; and 2) to prevent,
intervene in and treat abuse and neglect of children. CPS is
governed by several federal laws. Major provisions of federal law
specify that child safety is paramount to other concerns, require
reasonable efforts to be made toward reunification of a family and
set timeframes to move children toward a permanent home
Reports of suspected child abuse are referred to CPS through a
statewide, toll-free, 24-hour child abuse hotline. Anyone who
suspects child abuse or neglect may report it through the hotline;
however, certain individuals who have responsibility for minors
have a statutory duty to report suspected abuse or neglect,
including physicians and other health professionals, peace officers,
clergy, parents or guardians, and school personnel.
When a report is received, hotline personnel use a screening
process to determine whether the situation warrants an
investigation and prioritize the reports based on the severity of the
allegations. The protocols for this initial screening were developed
in consultation with the Attorney General, county attorneys and
other law enforcement, medical experts, victims’ rights advocates
and mandatory reporters. The priority classification system is
summarized in the following table:
Child Abuse Report Priority Classification System
Priority Level Risk Standard Response
1 High Within 2 hours
2 Moderate Within 48 hours
3 Low Within 72 hours
4 Potential Within 7 days
Arizona Child Protective Services  2
Arizona Senate Research Staff, 1700 W. Washington, Phoenix, AZ 85007 •1-800-352-8404 •602-926-3171
CPS is statutorily required to investigate 100
percent of the reports it receives that meet the
criteria for investigation. A CPS investigation
of a report generally includes interviewing the
alleged victim(s), perpetrator(s) and other
sources to help assess the risk of harm to the
child(ren) involved and evaluate the conditions
that support or refute the alleged abuse or
neglect. Reports are further classified as
substantiated, unsubstantiated or unable to
locate. CPS maintains a central registry of
substantiated reports and the outcomes of the
investigation of these reports.
Upon initial contact with a person who is
under investigation for child abuse or neglect,
the CPS worker must inform the person that the
family is under investigation by DES, that the
CPS worker has no legal authority to compel the
family to cooperate and that the family has the
right to file complaints or appeal CPS
determinations. This information, as well as
information outlining parental rights under
Arizona law, must be provided in writing, and
the CPS worker is required to make reasonable
efforts to receive written acknowledgment from
the person that the information was received.
The CPS worker must also inform the person of
his or her right to respond to allegations of abuse
or neglect and that anything the person says or
writes in response can be used in a court
In each county, the county attorney, the
sheriff, the chief law enforcement officer for
each municipality in the county and CPS have
developed and implemented protocols to
cooperate in investigations of allegations
involving criminal conduct. Allegations of
criminal conduct include domestic violence that
involves a minor victim or a minor who was in
imminent danger, and felony offenses such as
sexual abuse, assault, child molestation and
abuse that is likely to produce death or serious
injury.  Additionally, legislation effective
January 1, 2013 requires the Director of DES to
establish the Office of Child Welfare
Investigations (Office), within DES but separate
from CPS, to conduct criminal conduct
investigations. Investigators will have similar
authority and requirements as CPS workers, but
must have additional training regarding law
enforcement’s role in criminal child abuse or
neglect, relevant law enforcement procedures,
forensic interviewing, child physical and sexual
abuse investigation, joint investigation
protocols, and a child’s rights as a victim.
If CPS determines there are no risk factors
severe enough to warrant ongoing involvement
to ensure the safety of a child, it may close the
case without providing further services. In cases
where CPS determines that a child is at risk for
abuse or neglect, it may offer the family in-home
services such as counseling or parent skills
training that could allow the child to live safely
at home. Families participate in in-home
services voluntarily, and if the family refuses
offered services in a case where risks to the
child’s safety do not warrant legal action, the
case may be closed.
When CPS determines that the child is
currently safe but is at a high risk of abuse or
neglect, and that safeguards can be established
to ensure the child’s continued safety in the
home, CPS may file an in-home dependency.
This would make the child a ward of the court
but keeps the child in the physical custody of the
parent or guardian.
Removing A Child From The Home
If, after an investigation, CPS determines
that a child is in imminent danger of abuse or
neglect, the child may be removed from the
home. When determining if a child should be
taken into temporary custody, the CPS worker
must take into consideration as a paramount
concern the child’s health and safety. When a
child is removed, the parent or guardian must be
notified immediately both verbally and in
written format if the parent or guardian is
present when the child is taken, or within six
hours in written format if not present. If the
parent lives out of state, the deadline for written
notification is extended to 24 hours, and if the
parent’s location is unknown, reasonable efforts
Child Protective Services  3
Arizona Senate Research Staff, 1700 W. Washington, Phoenix, AZ 85007 •1-800-352-8404 •602-926-3171
must be made to locate and notify the parent as
soon as possible.
Preliminary Protective Hearing
The court must review the removal of a
child five to seven days after the child is taken
into custody, excluding weekends and holidays.
This is done at a preliminary protective hearing
(PPH). At least one day before the PPH, CPS
must submit a written report to the court and the
parties involved stating the reasons the child was
removed, the services provided for the parent or
the child, the need for continued custody and a
proposed case plan for services to the family.
The PPH must include: 1) the parents, unless
they cannot be located or fail to appear; 2)
counsel for the parents, if requested or retained;
3) the child’s guardian ad litem or attorney; 4)
the CPS worker; and 5) counsel for the CPS
At the PPH, the court must advise the parent
of his or her rights and the parent must state
whether he or she admits or denies the
allegations. If the parent admits or does not
contest the allegations, the court determines that
the parent understands his or her rights and
knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waives
those rights. The state has the burden of
presenting evidence as to whether there is
probable cause to believe that continued
temporary custody is clearly necessary to
prevent abuse or neglect pending the hearing on
the dependency petition. If the court finds that
the state has not met the burden of evidence, the
child is returned pending the dependency
hearing. If the court finds that the state has met
the burden, the child is declared a temporary
ward of the court pending the dependency
The court also determines at the PPH
whether reasonable efforts were made to prevent
or eliminate the need for removal of the child,
and if services are available that would eliminate
the need for continued removal. The court
enters orders regarding the placement of the
child pending the dependency petition, and
visitation if the child is not returned to the
parent. The court also determines if the tasks
and services in the case plan are reasonable and
necessary to carry out the case plan.
A child is adjudicated dependent if the court
finds that: 1) the child is in need of parental care
and control and there is no parent or guardian
willing to or capable of exercising that care and
control; 2) the child is destitute or not provided
with adequate food, clothing, shelter or medical
care; 3) the child’s home is unfit due to abuse,
neglect, cruelty or depravity by a parent,
guardian or custodian; 4) the child is under eight
years of age and has committed an act that
would result in adjudication as a juvenile
delinquent if committed by an older child; 5) the
child is incompetent and is alleged to have
committed a serious offense such as murder,
manslaughter, sexual assault or armed robbery.
Any interested party may file a petition
alleging that a child is dependent. In cases
where a child has been removed from the home,
CPS must file dependency petitions within 72
hours of the child’s removal, excluding
weekends and holidays, or return the child to the
home. A dependency petition and a notice must
be served on the child’s parent or guardian, the
child’s guardian ad litem or attorney, and
anyone who has physical custody of the child
such as a foster parent. An initial dependency
hearing must be set within 21 days after the
petition is filed.
At any dependency hearing, the court’s
primary consideration must be the protection of
a child from abuse or neglect. At the initial
dependency hearing, the court must advise the
parent of his or her rights and the parent must
state whether he or she admits or denies the
allegations. If the parent admits or does not
contest the allegations, the court determines that
the parent understands his or her rights and
knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waives
those rights. If the parent or guardian contests
the allegations, the court holds a settlement
conference or orders mediation for all parties
involved. The court determines if reasonable
efforts were made to prevent or eliminate the
need for removal from the home and if services
are available that would do so.
Child Protective Services  4
Arizona Senate Research Staff, 1700 W. Washington, Phoenix, AZ 85007 •1-800-352-8404 •602-926-3171
Unless the court finds that aggravating
circumstances exist, the court must order CPS to
make reasonable efforts to provide services to
the child and the parent or guardian that would
allow reunification. Aggravating circumstances
include cases where the parent has been
convicted of murder, manslaughter, sexual
abuse, molestation or sexual exploitation where
the victim was a minor; the child was previously
removed and adjudicated dependent due to
abuse; the child is a victim of serious physical or
emotional injury; the parent’s rights to another
child have been terminated for the same cause;
the parent cannot be located; or the parent is
mentally ill to the degree that he or she is
incapable of benefiting from reunification
The basis for dependency must be found by
a preponderance of the evidence. If a child is
adjudicated dependent, the court enters orders
awarding placement of the child. The court also
reviews the child’s case plan and must seek
reunification of the family if possible. If the
court determines reunification is not in the
child’s best interests, the court orders a case plan
of termination of parental rights and adoption or
another permanent placement such as permanent
guardianship. Periodic review hearings are held
at least once every six months to reconsider the
child’s case plan.
Child Placement
Children who have been removed from
home by CPS are placed in temporary out-of-home care, with a case plan goal of permanency
for that child. The federal Adoption Assistance
and Child Welfare Act (AACWA) requires the
child’s health and safety to be the paramount
concern when making decisions about out-of-home placement and permanency planning.
AACWA also requires a child to be placed in the
least restrictive, or most family-like, setting
possible. Arizona statute requires CPS to place
a child in the least restrictive type of placement
available, consistent withthe needs of the child.
The order of preference for placement is as
follows: with a parent, with a grandparent, with
another relative, in family foster care, in
therapeutic foster care, in a group home and in a
residential treatment facility.
If the child is not placed with a grandparent
or other relative within 60 days after the child is
removed, the court must determine why such
placement is not in the child’s best interests.
The state has the burden of presenting evidence
that such placement is not in the child’s best
interests, and the court must make specific
written findings in support of a decision that
such placement is not in the best interests of the
Termination Of Parental Rights
Any person or agency with a legitimate
interest in the welfare of a child, including
relatives, foster parents, DES or a private child
welfare agency, may file a petition for
termination of parental rights (TPR) with the
juvenile court. Grounds for TPR include: abuse
or neglect; abandonment; inability to discharge
parental responsibilities due to mental illness or
chronic substance abuse; conviction of a felony
proving the unfitness of that parent to have
custody of a child; proof that the parent has had
parental rights to another child terminated within
the past two years for the same cause; or
demonstration that the child has been in out-of-home placement for longer than nine months, or
if the child is under three years of age, longer
than six months and the parent neglected or
refused to remedy the problems. The court must
also consider the best interests of the child when
considering grounds for TPR.
An order terminating parental rights
removes all legal rights, privileges, duties and
obligations the parent and the child have with
respect to each other, except the right of the
child to inherit and receive support from the
parent. Rights of inheritance and support are
only terminated by a final order of adoption. If a
petition for TPR is contested, the court holds a
termination adjudication hearing to determine
whether there is clear and convincing evidence
of grounds for TPR. [Note: For a period, Laws
2003, Second Special Session, Chapter 6,
allowed a parent, guardian or custodian to
request a jury trial for a TPR hearing. However,
this jury trial option sunset (ended) on January 1,
Child Protective Services  5
Arizona Senate Research Staff, 1700 W. Washington, Phoenix, AZ 85007 •1-800-352-8404 •602-926-3171
Federal law requires states to develop
methods for preserving confidential information
regarding children and parents involved with
CPS. Arizona statute requires CPS to maintain
information as required by federal law and also
requires all exceptions for the public release of
CPS information to be construed as openly as
possible under federal law.
All information gathered by CPS during the
course of an investigation, from the time a file is
opened until it is closed, is considered
confidential and may only be disclosed under
certain circumstances or to persons listed in
statute. Anyone who discloses confidential
information to unauthorized persons or further
discloses information received pursuant to
statute is guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor.
CPS must provide information to law
enforcement, local, state and federal agencies
and to a prosecutor, an attorney or guardian ad
litem representing a child victim of crime, a
school and a community or contract service
provider for the following purposes: 1) to meet
its duties to provide for the safety, permanency
and well-being of a child or to provide services
to a parent or family members to strengthen the
family; 2) to enforce or prosecute any violation
involving child abuse or neglect; or 3) to provide
information to a defendant after a criminal
charge has been filed as required by an order of
the criminal court. CPS must also provide
information to the court and, in certain
circumstances, to government agencies and
citizen review boards that are required to
periodically review CPS cases.
Statute allows CPS to provide access to CPS
information to the parent, guardian or custodian
of a child if the information is “reasonably
necessary to promote the safety, permanency
and well-being of the child.” Anyone who is not
specifically authorized by statute to obtain CPS
information may petition the court to order CPS
to release that information. The court is required
to balance the rights of the parties entitled to
confidentiality against the rights of the parties
seeking release of the information. However,
the court must take reasonable steps to prevent
any clearly unwarranted invasions of privacy
and protect the privacy and dignity of crime
A legislator may review confidential CPS
information by submitting a written request for
the information to the President of the Senate or
the Speaker of the House of Representatives,
who must sign it and forward it to CPS within
five working days. The legislator must sign a
form that outlines confidentiality laws and may
not disclose the information further, unless a
court has ordered the disclosure of the
information or the information has been
disclosed in a public or court record or in the
course of a public meeting or court proceeding.
Within ten working days, CPS must make
arrangements for the legislator to review the
Statute requires CPS to promptly provide
preliminary information to the public of a CPS
case of child abuse, abandonment or neglect that
resulted in a fatality or near fatality, including
the identity of the child and alleged perpetrator
and information on past reports and actions
taken by CPS. On request by any person, CPS
must also promptly provide additional
information to the person, but CPS must notify
the county attorney of any decision to release the
information; CPS is not required to disclose the
additional information if the county attorney
demonstrates that disclosure would cause a
specific, material harm to a criminal
On request, CPS must continue to provide
information promptly to the public about a
fatality or near fatality unless: 1) the county
attorney demonstrates that release of particular
CPS information would cause a specific,
material harm to a criminal investigation; 2) the
release would violate state law requiring
protection of the identity or safety of any person
or 3) releasing the information would violate
federal law or the privacy of crime victims. A
person who is denied CPS information regarding
a fatality or near fatality may bring a special
action in superior court to order CPS to release
the information.
Before releasing any confidential
information, CPS and law enforcement agencies
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Arizona Senate Research Staff, 1700 W. Washington, Phoenix, AZ 85007 •1-800-352-8404 •602-926-3171
are required to take whatever precautions that
are reasonably necessary to protect the identity
of any person who may be endangered as a
result of the release of information. CPS is not
required to disclose information if CPS
demonstrates that disclosure would cause a
specific, material harm to a CPS investigation.
The Joint Legislative Committee on
Children and Family Services (Committee)
reviews reports of child abuse, neglect and
dependency and actions taken by CPS. The
Committee has access to confidential CPS
records and has the ability to meet in executive
session to review confidential information. This
information may not be further disclosed by
Committee members or staff. Additionally, the
Committee is required to meet at least annually
to review child fatalities relating to abuse or
The Committee consists of five members of
the Senate appointed by the President of the
Senate and five members of the House of
Representatives appointed by the Speaker of the
House of Representatives. No more than three
members from each chamber may be from the
same political party. One member from each
chamber is designated as cochair.
An audit team from the Office of the
Auditor General is statutorily established within
DES to perform reviews and analyses of CPS as
determined by the Joint Legislative Audit
Committee. The audit team has access to CPS
records and produces audits of CPS as well as
information briefs about CPS programs.
Several programs and offices are in place to
assist families with issues and complaints
relating to CPS. Internally, CPS has a client
grievance process that involves management
within the DES Division of Children, Youth and
Families. DES also has a Family Advocacy
Office separate from CPS to handle inquiries
and complaints and to work with CPS and the
family to resolve problems.
External assistance may be received through
several different state agencies. The
Administrative Office of the Courts operates a
Parent Assistance Program, which includes a
toll-free hotline where parents may obtain
information about legal assistance, the juvenile
court system and their legal rights and
responsibilities. The Attorney General’s Office
operates a Child Welfare Mediation Program to
mediate certain disputes between families and
CPS upon request. Finally, the Arizona
Ombudsman-Citizen’s Aide is also available to
handle inquiries and complaints about CPS
actions. There is an Assistant Ombudsman
assigned specifically to CPS who handles these
•  Child Welfare and Dependent Children
Statutes: Arizona Revised Statutes, Title 8,
Chapters 5 and 10
•  Annual Appropriations Report, Joint
Legislative Budget Committee
•  Office of the Auditor General Reports
•  Administrative Office of the Courts
Parent Assistance Program
Toll-free: 1-800-732-8193
•  Arizona Ombudsman-Citizen’s Aide
Toll-free: 1-800-872-2879
Phoenix area: 602-277-7292
•  Attorney General’s Office
Child Welfare Mediation Program
Phoenix area: 602-542-5263
Tucson area: 520-628-6500
Flagstaff area: 928-526-8028
•  DES Family Advocate’s Office
Toll-free: 1-877-527-0765
Phoenix area: 602-364-0777