House passes Hobbs bill that makes CPS more efficient and helps children
STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The House of Representatives sent a bill by Rep. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix (District 15), that will help make Child Protective Services more efficient and help children in removal review cases to the governor yesterday.
HB 2794 would eliminate the need for the Department of Economic Security to establish “review teams” to determine whether a child should be removed from a home because of abuse or neglect. It passed a House vote by 58-2.
“This bill helps CPS become more efficient by cutting out a duplicative step of the process to determine if a child needs to be removed from a person’s custody,” Hobbs said.
Since 1998, juvenile courts have held preliminary protective hearings in cases involving the removal of children from abusive situations. This hearing eliminates the need for review teams. CPS caseloads are already 50 percent over the recommended limit and this step causes more delays in providing services and keeping children safe.
“Review teams make it harder for children to be taken out of abusive and neglectful environments,” Hobbs said. “Eliminating review teams will improve the process for getting children out of unhealthy situations and into safe homes.”
Removing the review teams was one of several recommendations outlined in the Arizona Child Safety Task Force report that was released in December 2011. The bill also had other provisions based on the report’s recommendations including:
· Defining domestic violence as a crime against children if a child is present during an altercation.
· Ensuring there are no court orders in other states prohibiting a parent/guardian from seeing a child before the parent/guardian is allowed to see the child in Arizona.
· Requiring DES and each county attorney to submit a separate annual report regarding joint CPS investigations.
· Requiring the joint investigation CPS reports to be independently prepared and submitted without collusion between agencies.
· Requiring a peace officer to determine if a minor is present when responding to a domestic violence call.
· Requiring a peace officer to conduct a child welfare check to determine if the child is safe or if the child might be a victim of domestic violence or child abuse.