CPS Chief: Agency Tried to Hide Growing Backlog of Cases

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Alejandro Hernandez via Flickr

The new head of Arizona's Child Protective Services says that the agency had been trying to hide the degree to which caseworkers were failing to keep up with new reports of child abuse and neglect.

Flanagan told the CPS oversight committee Monday that the coding of cases as "not investigated" -- which eventually led to the revelation that about 6,600 claims of abuse and neglect were essentially ignored -- made the backlog of cases look smaller than it really was.

See also:
-Arizona Legislature Approves $6.8 Million for New CPS Workers, and Tab May Grow

"Somebody in the agency made the decision -- okay, let's take some of these low-priority cases, let's shove them aside call them 'not investigated' even though it's illegal, and it's not in policy, and we're not going to codify it in policy," Flanagan explained.

it's been revealed in news reports that legislators and the Governor's Office routinely received reports detailing the number of "not investigated" cases, leading some people to speculate that it was no surprise at all.

However, the people looking at these reports apparently didn't really know what "not investigated" meant. Most likely, government officials didn't read "not investigated" as "ignored" -- that part was just made clear in the fall by Office of Child Welfare Investigations chief Greg McKay, who blew the whistle on the practice.

Flanagan suggested Monday that the "not investigated" coding was just a way to hide how far behind the agency was getting on these cases, and to lessen the workload, although he hasn't been able to find out why anyone ever thought that was a good idea.

"Think about this," Flanagan said. "It doesn't make sense to do that."

If CPS truthfully reported the numbers, Flanagan explained, CPS may have gotten more resources to do the job correctly. Instead, they reported a backlog of cases, plus the 6,000-plus "not investigated" cases -- which turned out to be a misleading term.

"Instead, this strange decision-making to try to hide work and lessen the workload in the field caused a problem that snowballed to the point where we had nearly 6,600 [ignored] cases," Flanagan said.

After the cases were discovered, and Flanagan was brought in to oversee a team to process the ignored cases, CPS ended up removing more than 450 children from their homes. Flanagan suggested that most of those kids may have been able to stay with their parents had their cases not been ignored, and had the agency been able to intervene earlier.

There are still investigations into the actions that led to the stockpile of ignored cases, and who's responsible. Meanwhile, now that the problem's more apparent, the Legislature has already dedicated funds to hire more CPS workers, and Governor Brewer has recommended nearly $74 million in new spending for CPS in next year's budget.

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"Somebody in the agency made the decision -- okay, let's take some of these low-priority cases, let's shove them aside call them 'not investigated' even though it's illegal, and it's not in policy, and we're not going to codify it in policy,"

This is simple.  This is code for:  Clarence H Carter, we boxing U up Boy!

Poor sap.  He thought he was in the club.  Some where along the line he forgot he was in AZ.  They getting ready to yank your papers dude.

TommyCollins topcommenter

It could be that someone in charge of the agency felt it was more important to make the agency seem more 'successful' with their current staffing by simply ignoring cases. It could also be that someone at the agency told someone at the governor's office that additional resources were needed and they were told it wouldn't happen. I don't think all of the blame belongs within the agency, itself.

Anita Mahaffey
Anita Mahaffey

Yeah, I've seen some pretty ridiculous cases, based on complete BS, while other heinous crimes go without any investigation. WTF?

Anita Mahaffey
Anita Mahaffey

Where are your investigative reporters? Why hasn't someone infiltrated CPS to find out what REALLY goes on behind closed doors?

Anita Mahaffey
Anita Mahaffey

Adult Protective Services is no better. Frankly, I would be offended to have any job where the best customer service I could provide is, "Sorry, can't help you." This seems to be the status quo.


So I see you have all come to your senses to admit that it was not all entirely Arpaio's fault.

Salad Annie
Salad Annie

BTW - who's the Hispanic transvestite dude in the day-glo green tank top in the header pic?

Salad Annie
Salad Annie

CPS are a bunch of fat broads who can't even manage their own lives trying to make judgment calls on people who, for the most part, can.

MaskedMagician1967 topcommenter

The 432 sex crimes against children that Arpaio and the SA refused to investigate are and remain Arpaio's fault.

danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@robert_graham  still could be his fault...............maybe if all our taxes didnt go for fixing his messes, CPS would have had more funding......................see twit, that makes sense. doesnt mean its true, but you have never been a stickler for truth, so that should still work for ya

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