First Native American Caucus meeting focused on child safety
STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The first meeting of the Native American Caucus for the 2014 legislative session focused on child safety throughout Arizona and in Native American communities.
The meeting started with presentations from Child Advocate Response Examination Team members, Rep. Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix (District 28), and Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor, D-Phoenix (District 27), who gave an overview of their recent report submitted to Gov. Jan Brewer.
The report highlights the work of the CARE Team in reviewing the numerous cases of child abuse and neglect that Child Protective Services did not investigate. The document includes an analysis of the problems that required immediate attention and identified potential reforms for child welfare. The report also offers recommendations designed to improve child safety and the effectiveness of Arizona’s child welfare system.
The new director of the Division of Child Safety and Family Services, Charles Flanagan, spoke about the duties of his department and stressed the need to expand child advocacy centers within the community.
Rep. Jamescita Peshlakai, D-Cameron (District 7), emphasized the importance of open communication between the state and Indian nations.
“Accountability and transparency are crucial when dealing with the welfare of Native American children,” said Peshlakai. “I am hopeful that Mr. Flanagan will continue to work with us to develop the reforms that are necessary to keep our children safe. True change will only happen if we are willing to work together in expanding programs that would help struggling families.”
Thomas L. Cody, legislative analyst of the Navajo Division of Social Services, and his colleagues with The Department of Family Services and Navajo Children and Family Services outlined recommendations for improving services to children in Native American nations, which focused on communication, training, funding and collaboration. The full list of recommendations is available below.
Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), added that the Native American communities have unique circumstances that must be taken into consideration when talking about child welfare services.
“The state should recognize the distinctive conditions that Native American families often face,” said Hale. “Together, we should take this opportunity to develop an appropriate response to these situations. The child welfare system is in need of immediate attention, and it is our responsibility to instigate change for the protection of Arizona’s children.”
For a full copy of the CARE Team report, go to: