State Has Real Opportunity to Fix DCS

| August 16, 2015

Children’s Action Alliance Newsletter:

August 13, 2015

After new laws and funding for additional staff, none of the measures of success for the Department of Child Safety (DCS) look better today than they did last June when the agency was created. DCS is still struggling to manage its workload, too many children are being taken into foster care, and there is far too much time and trauma before children are connected with safe and permanent homes. You can review the data in these charts.

DCS Strategic Plan Cover Edited VersionDCS recently released a new plan with five strategic goals, which you can read here.

The state legislature and Governor Ducey now have a chance to focus their leadership on three essential steps that can move this plan from words on a page to real life changes for children and families.

First, DCS must increase the use of in-home services to help parents get back on track with counseling, timelines, support, and monitoring. While foster care is clearly necessary at times, child welfare research concludes that children can be safe andhave better long-term outcomes if they remain with their families and have the support of in-home services.

Second, DCS must develop clear and consistent decision-making criteria and protocols throughout the agency. No changes in state law will keep children safer until the DCS team has good tools and clear direction for the key decisions they make about investigating child abuse and neglect, removing children and placing them into foster care, returning them home, and closing cases.

Third, policymakers must match the workload with the agency capacity. Until we do, the backlog of unfinished cases will crowd out any chances of success.

It is up to Governor Ducey to lead DCS to success. In February he promised us a new day in child safety. With focused leadership on the three priorities described here, plus the needed human and financial resources, the Governor can reshape DCS into an agency Arizona can count on to handle reports of child abuse and neglect and to keep kids safe.

Ultimately, the biggest success for child safety will come when we expand our focus beyond DCS to prevent reports from ever coming to their door in the first place.

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Category: General

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