The legislative committee charged with overseeing the Arizona Department of Child Safety is meeting this week, possibly for the last time.
DCS was created two years ago in response to crises—like a backlog of approximately 15,000 uninvestigated cases—that were putting Arizona’s most vulnerable children at risk. When the agency was established, it was required to report regularly to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee on its progress in solving those crises. But after two years, our child safety system is still in bad shape.
The backlog, which was supposed to be eliminated long ago, still numbers at nearly 5,000. Director McKay has failed to reverse the agency’s high staff turnover rate, which puts children at greater risk, reduces efficiency, and wastes money. For months, DCS has been losing more caseworkers than it is hiring. And despite all the persistent problems, Director McKay is choosing to be less transparent with lawmakers and the public.
That is why this week’s oversight committee is so important. Governor Ducey and Director McKay need to be held accountable. But Director McKay’s track record of ignoring reform recommendations and best practices and his decision to reduce transparency prove that he can’t be trusted to hold himself accountable. Since we can’t count on the governor to hold Director McKay responsible, the legislative oversight committee needs to be reauthorized, and public pressure needs to be maintained. The lives and wellbeing of thousands of children depend on this agency.
Click here to watch the oversight committee live on Thursday morning at 9:30. And if you want the governor to know you expect more from him and from Director McKay, click here to find ways to be heard.