Governor Jan Brewer today signed into law the first bill of the 2013 legislative session -- an emergency appropriation measure that will allow the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) to immediately hire 50 new full-time employees within Child Protective Services (CPS).
"Seventeen days ago in my State of the State address, I urged the Legislature to act quickly and pass an emergency bill funding 50 new full-time employees within Child Protective Services. I applaud the legislators who have joined me in taking swift action on behalf of Arizona's abused and neglected children," said Governor Brewer. "This bill is not a cure-all for the child-safety problem in our state, but it will bring immediate help to the children who need it most. I intend to continue working closely with the Legislature and DES to strengthen Arizona's child-safety system."
"I want to thank the Governor as well as the House and Senate leadership for fast-tracking this legislation, reflecting our mutual commitment to Arizona's most vulnerable," said Rep. Kate Brophy McGee (R-Dist.28), who sponsored the measure. "It's important going forward that the legislature follow this issue closely as we work toward CPS' FY 2014 budget appropriation."
Last week, DES released its latest Semi-Annual Child Welfare Report and highlighted improvements made within Child Protective Services regarding staff recruitment and retention, Child Abuse Hotline management and foster home recruitment efforts.
These improvements include a new centralized and streamlined hiring process. In 2012, CPS hired and trained 459 new caseworkers. The agency also partnered with Arizona State University to evaluate and update its training opportunities for new and ongoing staff and supervisors.
Based on the agency's appropriation, CPS is currently fully-staffed. Governor Brewer's budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2014 calls for an additional 150 CPS caseworkers and support staff, as well as added funding for adoption services, foster care, emergency placement and other resources for Arizona children at-risk.
"I'm grateful to Governor Brewer and legislative leaders for recognizing the need for more staff members within Child Protective Services so that we can work to ensure the continued protection of Arizona's children," said DES Director Clarence Carter. "I'd also like to thank our devoted CPS workforce for all of the
hard work, passion and heart it has shown for keeping Arizona kids safe. This is one of the hardest jobs anyone could have but, as long-time staff will tell you, it's also the most fulfilling."