Gov. Jan Brewer used her State of the State address Monday to announce she was abolishing Child Protection Services and creating a new, stand-alone cabinet agency to oversee child welfare.
That agency will be called the Division of Child and Family Services and will be headed up by Charles Flanagan who has been her juvenile corrections director. Flanagan will report directly to Brewer.
CBS 5 News sat down with Flanagan on Tuesday to ask him how he was going to change the broken system that has failed thousands of Arizona's kids and families in the past.
CBS 5 News asked Flanagan if the new agency will be the complete overhaul that many have been calling for for years.
"It in and of itself will not equal a complete overhaul. There are many things that have to happen to meet that definition. It does a number of things. One, it puts it under the direct supervision of the governor through the director of the entity. That raises the level of the scrutiny the agency gets. And number two it allows CPS and DCYF, in this new format, to focus on their work and not be confused all of the other aspects of DES, a much larger agency," Flanagan said.
Flanagan talked with CBS 5 News about the operational changes that he hopes to make.
"The focus has to be on having the resources, the employees, that are trained and that are capable of doing this job in the numbers sufficient to do the job so that they're not nearly doing twice what is expected of everybody else in the United States, when it comes to caseloads. Secondly, you have to have supervisors that can supervise and support them and mentor them, rather than having supervisors that have to do caseloads because there's such an atrocious turnover rate with people leaving. There also has to be a database that's functional where you can get information out of it. And then the people working in the field need efficiencies. They need a laptop or a tablet or something that they can enter information into that then reduces the amount of administrative work that they have to do. The structural changes to the organization are myriad. There are so many things that are going to have to happen that it's not just one thing."
Flanagan also talked a lot about the new agency being much more transparent than the old.
"The governor said she expects transparency. So we're going to be approaching that in a very different way than has happened in the past. We intend to protect the identities of the children that we serve, the families, but to provide outcomes, to provide what it is we're doing and how we're doing it in a much clearer way so that people know exactly what it is we're doing, similar to the care team publishing the numbers of the work that we're doing and explaining what that means. You'll hear about things like removals. You'll hear about closed cases. You'll hear about the cases that did repeat."
One of the biggest concerns over the years with CPS has been a lack of accountability. Flanagan said he has a plan for that.
"There needs to be an inspections bureau, which is one of the things I will be working on, that is independent of anyone else in the organization but the director, that conducts both daily, weekly, monthly fields audits and reviews of what's being done and then does quarterly and annual inspections to assure compliance with law, policy and procedure."
Flanagan said the success of the new agency will require a cultural change that can be achieved if given the resources to do the job. Flanagan said much will depend on the Legislature and their allocation of money.
Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
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