CPS failed to investigate 875 Pima cases, records show

2014-01-10T00:00:00Z CPS failed to investigate 875 Pima cases, records showBy Patricia Machelor Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Fewer than 1,000 of the 6,500 child abuse and neglect reports Arizona’s child welfare agency failed to investigate in recent years were in the metro Tucson area.

Of the cases not investigated since 2009, 875 were in Pima County, said Todd Stone, public records coordinator for the state’s Department of Economic Security, which oversees CPS. The majority of cases, 4,450, were in Maricopa County, Stone said. Pinal County was third, with 400 cases.

The remaining cases are spread out across the state, Stone said.

The breakdown came in response to a public-records request by the Arizona Daily Star.

DES Director Clarence Carter revealed the uninvestigated cases in November, prompting Gov. Jan Brewer to appoint a selected group called the CARE team to review the cases.

DES spokeswoman Tasya Peterson could not be reached Thursday for comment on the breakdown, nor on the status of the investigations. But Juvenile Corrections Director Charles Flanagan, who was appointed to lead the CARE team, told The Associated Press on Monday that the team should have all the cases assigned to child welfare investigators by the month’s end.

Flanagan told the AP that 5,128 of the cases are now assigned, and nearly 2,400 children whose cases were neglected have now been seen.

“That means the staff members have actually gone out to locate the family, the residence, have gathered their information and are moving forward on the case,” he said.

He said team members — more than 175 CPS workers are assigned to the effort at least part time — started with the most recent cases because those children are likely at the most immediate risk. Nearly every case reported in 2012 and 2013 has been investigated, he told the AP.

With a record number of children in foster care and group homes — 15,000 in the state and 5,000 in Pima County — CPS is removing children from their homes at the highest rate in the nation.

In the last two years, at least 67 Arizona children died from maltreatment even though they were known to CPS. Some had open cases, and others had cases that had been recently closed, the state’s annual Child Fatality Review shows.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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