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Montgomery’s proposal stirs debate over child welfare

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Montgomery’s proposal stirs debate over child welfare

by  on Oct. 27, 2011, under Arizona Republic News

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery’s proposal to require police, notChild Protective Services, to investigate child-abuse allegations spotlights a key dispute over how to improve the state’s child-welfare system.

In a variant on proposals dating a decade or more, Montgomery wants an investigative unit separate from CPS to decide whether police or caseworkers handle certain abuse reports.

If investigators deem a child a potential victim of serious abuse, authorities would segregate the child from other family members, including siblings, and place the child with a specially trained foster family. CPS would have no further involvement.

Child-welfare debate over the years often centers on the CPS’ dual role as an investigative and social-services agency, and second-guessing over cases that go wrong often revolves around why caseworkers didn’t remove the children.

Montgomery said current law and policies requiring law enforcement and CPS work together aren’t being followed. He said he’s appalled at the number of recent child deaths – 15 dead children in the 11 months he has been in office – and the fact that four of the children had open CPS files.

“CPS has proven itself incapable year after year in dealing with children who are victimized,” Montgomery said. “They don’t remove children that they should. And those children wind up dead. We’re not going to do this anymore.”

Clarence Carter, director of the Department of Economic Security, which oversees Child Protective Services, was traveling Wednesday, and other officials in his office would not comment. Carter and Montgomery are expected to co-chair Gov. Jan Brewer’s task force on child safety, which she will name later this week.

But other child-welfare advocates say Montgomery’s plan goes too far.

Dana Wolfe Naimark, CEO of the Children’s Action Alliance, said she understands Montgomery’s frustration in light of a string of child-abuse injuries and deaths, including 6-year-old Jacob Gibson, who was the subject of five CPS reports before his Aug. 14 death.

“Law enforcement is no silver bullet. And we know that from the Jacob Gibson case, where police were called to the home multiple times,” Naimark said.

“And still Jacob ended up dying a horrible death.”

Naimark said CPS and police have separate but overlapping missions.

Both may be necessary for a child’s safety and well-being.

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Written by dawneworswick

October 27, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. i like this except for the part of removing the child from all its siblings.

    Pati Mcgehee

    October 29, 2011 at 1:11 am


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