Statement from Meyer on child safety special session
STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Minority Whip Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28), released this statement after Gov. Jan Brewer called the Legislature into a special session focused on child safety.
“Today the governor called the Legislature back into session with the expectation that we correct the issues plaguing our child safety agency. When we convene on May 27, House Democrats will ensure we establish an agency equipped to help Arizona’s most vulnerable children.
“For too long, Child Protective Services has had to make do with emergency funding after years of budget cuts to preventative and support services. This set the agency up for failure. With fewer resources going to prevention and support, more families fell into crisis and the child-safety caseload in the state began increasing at a rate that the agency could not handle.
“These next few days will be crucial to changing the course of child safety in Arizona. House Democrats are committed to working in a bipartisan manner to create a new agency that will protect children while requiring accountability and transparency. This effort has already begun. A workgroup including Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix (District 30), has been meeting regularly to develop the infrastructure for the new agency. Rep. McCune Davis has done a commendable job of voicing the concerns of our communities and of stakeholders during this process.
“Moving forward, we must prioritize resources for caseworkers and it is critical that we fund preventative and support services. We should also increase accountability and transparency measures. By doing this, we can address the nearly 15,000-case backlog the state still has. Additionally, we can begin to help children before they become victims of abuse or neglect, which will eventually reduce the caseload. This work will continue beyond the special session. It took years for the situation to develop and the reforms will not happen overnight. House Democrats will remain vigilant in their effort to protect Arizona’s children.”