Once again, they’ve failed our children.
Child Protective Services remains in crisis, despite all the protestations and crocodile tears of the politicians. Almost a year ago, CPS whistleblowers called attention to a scandal hiding in plain sight. Top CPS officials faced with a crushing backlog of 10,000 uninvestigated cases decided to start just setting aside reports that seemed less serious. So over a couple of years, they classified some 6,500 cases as “not investigated” without so much as a phone call.
Now, this should surprise no one who’s paying attention. Year after year, the Legislature has refused to provide enough money to adequately investigate the reports of abuse and neglect or provide care for children taken from unsafe homes. CPS has struggled with a 40 percent turnover due to the low pay and caseloads 70 percent above the national standard.
Nonetheless, everyone from Gov. Jan Brewer to legislative leaders professed themselves shocked and vowed to make changes.
Gov. Brewer has certainly made an effort — proposing $36 million in new funding for caseworkers, splitting CPS from the Department of Economic Security. She also launched an investigation that last week revealed the dysfunction and disarray in the underfunded, demoralized agency. The report led to the prompt firing of five top supervisors.
Of course, in a sense they’re scapegoats for the failure of the governor and Legislature to provide CPS with the resources it needs. The Legislature balked at Gov. Brewer’s proposed increases — although they’ll likely return to the issue in a July special session.
It amounts to a disgusting political puppet show — sound and fury signifying nothing. How do we know? Simple: Since the scandal, the backlog of uninvestigated cases has grown from 10,000 to 12,000.
Once again, we’ve failed our children.