Brewer rejects outside review of Ariz. child welfare office

2014-04-30T17:17:00Z Brewer rejects outside review of Ariz. child welfare officeBy Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services Arizona Daily Star

PHOENIX — Calling the spending unnecessary, Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a measure Wednesday to hire an outside expert to study the state's child welfare agency.

The governor said efforts already are underway to figure out what went wrong with the old Child Protective Services that led to nearly 6,600 complaints of abuse and neglect going uninvestigated despite state laws to the contrary. And she said there is a separate panel looking at her plan to create an entirely new Department of Child Safety and Family Services.

"Given the reality of limited resources and staff capacity, it is important to consider all the child welfare reforms comprehensively," Brewer wrote in her veto message.

Wednesday's move could create political problems for Brewer down the road.

The governor is expected to call lawmakers back into special session later this month to create that new state agency. She wants not only to replace the old CPS, which has been part of the Department of Economic Security, but also have an agency headed by someone who reports directly to her.

That session is awaiting the final report of a special panel to decide how the new agency should function and what are its fiscal needs.

Most lawmakers are willing to go along. But Senate President Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, who sought the $250,000 for the outside study, said he wanted to be sure that this move is more than simply giving the old agency a new name without changing how it operates.

His legislation had sought to require an outside consultant to examine how the state has been doing things until now and come up with ways to better protect child safety.

These include creating "accountability systems" to prevent a repeat of the uninvestigated complaints. The practice went on for years before being discovered.

Without that outside look at the agency Biggs wanted, some legislators may be reticent to create a new agency and add the millions of dollars more that the governor wants.

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