Many thanks to all of you who have offered thoughtful comments and suggestions to improve protection of Arizona’s children from abuse and neglect. Policymakers are listening! On Monday, CAA shared with Governor Brewer and members of the CPS Legislative Oversight Committee all of the input we received at the CPS Community Forum on December 3 as well as copies of the statements and email suggestions we have received since then. Tomorrow we will share those with members of the Governor’s CARE Team as well.
The ideas from foster and adoptive parents, retired and current CPS staff, grandparents who are raising their grandchildren, concerned parents and taxpayers, and experienced social workers in our communities show strong and consistent themes. Our clear messages to Governor Brewer and legislators are:
1. Reinvest in prevention and community support, so fewer families ever reach the breaking point. Child care assistance, mental health services and coaching for struggling parents would go a long way.
2. Increase Child Protective Services (CPS) staffing, training, compensation, supervision, and resources to bring caseloads down and give dedicated caseworkers the chance to succeed.
3. Repair CPS systems for prioritizing and responding to reports.
4. Build real partnerships with foster families, grandparents and other relatives caring for children, and community-based social services agencies to help children recover and build successful lives. Today, we’re letting these assets go to waste.
5. Create new and better ways to give neglected children safe and healthy families. Many overwhelmed parents who have committed no crime but have crossed the line into neglect can get back on track with proven support strategies in the community.
CAA has put together a booklet of materials from the Forum and beyond that you can view HERE. Just scroll to the bottom of the page.