Arizona Legislature passes child safety reform

az-capitolOn Thursday, Governor Jan Brewer signed into law child safety reform. The legislation, passed this week during a special session of the Arizona Legislature, statutorily creates and funds the new Department of Child Safety.

The permanent, stand-alone agency will be headed up by Director Charles Flanagan.

The governor created a new agency out of the existing one that allowed thousands of Arizona children to fall through the cracks.

According to the Yellow Sheet, “part of the technical difficulty,” of developing a new agency was “ensuring that all the references to existing state and federal statutes in the new bill” were accurate. The governor had touted her new agency all year in an effort to save deflect blame for the administration’s failure to protect neglected children. Her administration’s inability to deliver a ready-to-vote-on bill left many questioning, once again, her commitment and competence.

“It’s not as easy as just separating” the old CPS from DES, the source told the Yellow Sheet. As late as Tuesday, lawmakers had not “seen the substantive policy changes being sought by Brewer’s office, but as of midday, no one had yet seen the entire bill,” reported the Yellow Sheet.

According to the JLBC’s May Budget Update With Executive Child Safety Proposal report, the Fiscal Year 2015 ending balance will drop from $191 million to $131 million, and in Fiscal Year 2016, the shortfall will increase from -$137 million to -$235 million.

“Certainly, a system that has been broken for decades will take time to repair,” said the Governor in a statement released Thursday. “I thank the bi-partisan Child Safety Reform Workgroup, the CARE Team, the stakeholders and advocates, the Legislature and everyone who has played a part in this crucial and overdue cause.”