In spite of the enormous jump in the number of maltreated children being reported and removed by CPS, the system has fewer resources than ever in terms of case managers, foster homes, parent aides, and community resources to heal hurt children and to help their parents change their lives.
For any number of reasons that make no sense in the lives of these children, our legislature, our governor and DES itself have yet to address the issue of resources for the CPS system so the people who work there can do the job of making sure children are better off once they are reported to the system.
Some 1,400 reports of abuse and/or neglect reported to CPS between July 2011 and April 2012 remain “open for investigation” largely untouched - when under state law, investigations have to be completed within 45 days.
It’s grim out there for Arizona’s children and it is getting more so every day that CPS does not get critical funding to hire and train adequate numbers of staff to deal with the tidal wave of reports of children in peril.
There are things we can all do today to help:
- Purchase a Child Abuse Prevention license plate (www.servicearizona.com) for your car and help fund prevention services statewide.
- Volunteer to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate (azcasa.org) and advocate for a child in foster care through the juvenile court in your county.
- Consider becoming a foster parent; homes for children are critically needed so children have safe, nurturing care while they are away from home.
- Donate to a child welfare agency that provides critical services to children and families who need help.
More prevention is on the way: There is good news in all of this for our state; prevention of child abuse through home visiting programs is being expanded through a federal grant to the Arizona Department of Health Services. The Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting program will signifi cantly expand opportunities for new parents to get help before they are in crisis in many communities throughout Arizona.
Editor’s note: Ms. Ruffner can be reached through the organization’s website, pcaaz. org.