Arizona Establishes Cabinet-Level Child Safety and Family Services Division

Arizona Creates Cabinet-Level Division to Monitor and Enforce Child Safety and Family Services

Arizona Establishes Cabinet-Level Child Safety and Family Services DivisionIn 2014, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer followed the precedent set by 10 other state chief executives, disbanding the state’s child protective services, seeking to replace it with an independent agency that would report directly to the governor’s office. Governor Brewer used an executive order to abolish the existing child protective services, and temporarily created a cabinet-level division, known as the Division of Child Safety and Family Services.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle acknowledged that Arizona’s system for protecting children was woefully inadequate. Reports had surfaced that the former agency had a backlog of more than 6,500 child abuse and neglect reports that had not been investigated. Calling the Arizona child welfare system “broken” and “impeded by years of structural and operational failures,” Brewer named the current director of the Department of Juvenile Corrections, Charles Flanagan, to serve as head of the cabinet-level agency.

Brewer made it clear, however, that she did not want this to be the end of the restructuring. She asked lawmakers to consider legislation that would create a standalone agency focusing on providing aid and assistance to families in distress, as well as children who are victims of abuse or neglect.
Governor Brewer issued her executive order in January, 2014, and met with legislators in March to discuss efforts to put a new Department of Child Safety in place. She has also asked the Arizona legislature to appropriate $128 million to fund the agency for a four-year period.

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