Thursday, May 10, 2012

UPDATE: Governor signs Hobbs’ bill making CPS more efficient, helping children

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – On Wednesday, Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill into law that Rep. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix (District 15), introduced to improve Child Protective Services’ efficiency and assist children in removal cases. The new law becomes effective on Aug. 2, 2012.

Hobbs proposed HB 2794 to eliminate the need for the Department of Economic Security to establish “review teams” to determine whether a child should be taken from a home because of abuse or neglect. 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 the review team process causes more delays in providing services and keeping children safe.

“I am thrilled we were able to put aside partisan bickering to make CPS more efficient,” Hobbs said. “This will help ensure that Arizona children are safer and better protected.”

Eliminating review teams was one of several recommendations outlined in the Arizona Child Safety Task Force report that was released in December 2011. The new law also has 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 that joint investigation CPS reports 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 when responding to a domestic violence call.

“Eliminating review teams and the other provisions of this law will improve the process for getting children out of unhealthy situations and into safe homes,” Hobbs said.

For more information on the task force report go to https://www.azdes.gov/main.aspx?menu=10&id=7197.

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