Friday, February 1, 2013

New law allots $4.4M to hire 50 CPS workers


9 hours ago  •  Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX - A new law providing $4.4 million to fund 50 more Child Protective Services workers will be just a stopgap measure without efforts to halt abuse in the first place, the head of the agency said Thursday.

"One of the important parts of this work is obviously prevention," said Clarence Carter, director of the state Department of Economic Security. He said his agency wants to start to address "root causes" of abuse.

Carter's comments came as Gov. Jan Brewer signed emergency legislation to fund the added caseworkers to go with the existing staff of 1,075. Both the House and the Senate approved the $4.4 million necessary earlier in the day.

Brewer is asking for funds to hire 150 more next fiscal year.

Most immediately, Carter said, the funding will address the problem that staffers are assigned twice as many cases as are recommended in national standards. With this increase, and what the governor wants, he said, caseloads can get back to 35 to 40 percent above the national standard, which is what has been the historical practice in Arizona.

Carter said one issue his agency faces is that federal funds to deal with child abuse can be spent only after a child is removed from a home, so that money cannot be used to work with families to change parental behavior or get1 parents the help they need.

"So it's after the difficulties happen," Carter said.

He said Arizona is trying to get a waiver from those federal rules to allow his agency to use some of the money for prevention.

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