DCS, What works to help families in need

| June 23, 2015

Since the new Department of Child Safety (DCS) was created one year ago, the number of children living in foster care has continued to grow far faster than the number of foster families or the number of staff able to handle their cases. An additional 1,300 children in foster care are overwhelming the system and putting child safety at risk. Removing children from their homes is severely traumatizing – especially when we can’t offer them stability. The evidence is clear that while foster care is necessary in severe cases of abuse and neglect, children have better future results if they remain at home with support and services.

At the second anniversary of DCS, Arizona will be able to celebrate greater safety for children along with securing their well-being and permanency if we make it a priority to safely reduce the number of children in foster care. We know what works: prevention, parent mentoring, in-home services, mental health and child care assistance, and family support. Governor Ducey recognized this opportunity by declaring last Saturday “Family Reunification Day” and celebrating the success of families who got their children back from foster care through their commitment and through focused support from their own extended family, DCS, the courts, and their communities.

Arizona can build on these successes with focus and leadership.

  • Community agencies that serve families through contracts with DCS should expand their capacity to offer in-home services.
  • Media and community leaders should insist on lower numbers of children in foster care.
  • DCS must strengthen supports for grandparents and other relatives who step up to care for children needing foster care.
  • Religious congregations and philanthropy should to step up to support families before they ever need foster care in the first place.
  • State legislators must enhance funding and support in-home services and prevention and family support.
  • DCS Director Greg McKay must give his agency a clear mandate and the management and service tools DCS staff need to safely reduce the number of children living away from their families.

And Governor Ducey must take responsibility for moving this agency out of the depths of crisis and chaos. His leadership can help children in those most dangerous situations find loving parents in foster care and adoption. But that alone will only lead to a bigger DCS system. Governor Ducey can truly strengthen child safety with services that support parents, prevent abuse and neglect, and give struggling families the chance to succeed.

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Category: Advocacy, Child Welfare

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