Progress by the Numbers at the Department of Child Safety

| July 18, 2016

PHOENIX (Wednesday, June 15, 2016) – The Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) continues to make measurable progress in turning around the once troubled agency, improving services that strengthen families and keep children safe.

Morale has greatly improved now that the backlog is under control.  For the first time in years, the average daily volume of work will place investigators under nationally recommended caseloads.

DCS investigative staff are demonstrating the ability to keep up with incoming reports of abuse and neglect.  The work force has been able to complete more investigations than what were assigned in 13 of the past 14 months. These improvements are a result of implementing process changes including utilization of data-driven methodologies that direct workforce resources to areas of greatest need, thus better distributing resources in higher risk areas.

The backlog of inactive cases (cases where no documentation was entered or services weren’t provided for over 60 days) has been safely reduced by 43 percent, and the open inactive case number continues to decline. Efficiencies gained by safely closing inactive cases creates more time in the field to work with children and families.

Other improvements include the addition of three weeks of advanced training for caseworkers, better equipping staff for their challenging responsibilities.  Also, screening process improvements have dramatically reduced the wait time for callers to the DCS Hotline to under 35 seconds of hold time, making the DCS Hotline a national model of efficiency.

With steady progress underway in current case management, attention is now becoming more focused on expanding family support and prevention services.

Expansion includes the “Building Resilient Families” program, a DCS prevention focused program that identifies families in need and provides appropriate support before a crisis hits, teaching the necessary skills to help keep the family together. The agency also offers the Healthy Families AZ educational program for expectant and new parents.  In FY 2015, this program served almost 5,000 exceptional need families with extremely positive results, including a 96% success rate for no substantiated cases of abuse or neglect, a 90% success rate for timely developmental screenings in the first year, and an 89% immunization rate.  Additionally, 95% of the families enrolled received substance abuse screening, and only 5.6% reported substance abuse problems in the following year.

Given the explosion in prevalence of infants born addicted to narcotics, another DCS program launches in July through a Title IV-E Waiver from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This demonstration project, titled “Fostering Sustainable Connections”, uses components of the Family Finding model to help locate and interact with family and friends, creating family support networks for at risk children.

In circumstances where the child needs temporary placement due to safety concerns, Life Long Connections teams identify family-like placement situations, determine appropriate services and supports for the child and family, and help with transition planning and follow up to ensure that all necessary formal and natural supports are in place.  These initiatives will give families practical tools needed to thrive, thus reducing the number of children living in group homes and shelter care.

Positive progress at the Department of Child Safety is tangible and measurable. The agency will continue with its aggressive plan of continuous improvement. Arizona’s children and families deserve nothing less.

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