Arizona Governor Brewer orders child welfare inquiry

Arizona

Arizona Governor Brewer orders child welfare inquiry

Posted: Updated:

PHOENIX (AP) -- Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer defended the director of her social services agency Monday while angrily saying that those responsible for illegally closing more than 6,500 uninvestigated child abuse and neglect reports will be held accountable.

Brewer's comments came as she announced a second outside review of the state's child welfare agency to ensure Child Protective Services properly investigates the reports closed in the past four years.

Most of the closures happened in the past 20 months as a team assigned to prescreen tips phoned into the state's child abuse hotline tried to manage a soaring workload in field offices that do the investigations.

Brewer appointed the head of the state's juvenile corrections department to lead the review, which also will look at the agency's practices and procedures to prevent a repeat of the scandal that has roiled CPS. The team also includes child advocates, two state lawmakers, a retired police chief and a Maricopa County prosecutor.

CPS investigators discovered the practice of closing uninvestigated cases in August, and it was made public Nov. 21. Brewer also has assigned state police to investigate who was responsible for deciding to close the cases, which require investigation under state law.

Brewer, a Republican, again resisted calls from some Democrats and child welfare advocates for her to fire Clarence Carter, who leads CPS' parent agency, the Department of Economic Security. She said he had done "a fine job."

"I believe, personally, that there has been a break in the command, and we will get to the bottom of it, and somebody - people - will be held accountable," Brewer said. "We're not going to tolerate this. I think we need a complete, full investigation, we need to know where all the bodies are buried, if you will, no pun intended. But we're not going to start attacking people until we know that we've got a basis for doing that."

Carter declined to answer questions Monday at a news conference announcing the outside review.

State Rep. Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix, who was appointed to the independent team, said an outside review is required.

"It is absolutely critical that we have independent oversight, and I believe the team our governor has assembled is what is needed," Rep. Kate Brophy McGee said. "It will bring transparency to an agency that has been cloaked in secrecy and integrity to a process that has appeared corrupt."

The problems at the state's child welfare agency aren't new, and Brewer has made reforming it a priority in the past several years. Last January, Brewer personally took credit in her State of the State address for "overhauling" the hotline system so urgent calls received priority.

On Monday, she again promised reforms.

"We know it's never going to be perfect - we don't live in a perfect world - but we're going to do everything that we can possibly do to get to the bottom of these 6,000 uninvestigated cases," she said. "We're going to have eyes on each and every one of them, and we're going to enact reforms so these things don't happen ever again in the state of Arizona."

Carter has created a plan to respond to all the cases, including completing an initial review by Monday. He promised that all cases warranting full investigation will be assigned to investigators by the end of next month. He's assigned more than 200 CPS supervisors and program managers to the work, employees who don't currently handle cases.

  • Email Alert Sign Up

    Sign up here to receive breaking news stories from KSWT.com and morning updates to your email inbox.

    * denotes required fields


    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Go to KSWT-TV's Facebook page
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Father beats accused child abuser, Daytona police say

    Father beats accused child abuser, Daytona police say

    Police say a Daytona Beach father beat an 18-year-old man unconscious after finding him sexually abusing his son. Authorities say the father called 911 early Friday after he walked in on the alleged abuse.Frolander motionless on the living room floor. He had several knots on his face and was bleeding from the mouth. Police said the father -- who was not identified -- told investigators he walked in as Frolander was abusing the boy. Police did not release the boy's age, but Frolander is charge...More >>
    Police say a Daytona Beach father beat an 18-year-old man unconscious after finding him sexually abusing his son. Authorities say the father called 911 early Friday after he walked in on the alleged abuse.Frolander motionless on the living room floor. He had several knots on his face and was bleeding from the mouth. Police said the father -- who was not identified -- told investigators he walked in as Frolander was abusing the boy. Police did not release the boy's age, but Frolander is charge...More >>
  • Yuma Shooting Victim Identified; Vigil Held

    Yuma Shooting Victim Identified; Vigil Held

    YUMA - Friends and family gathered outside Jimmie Dee's bar Sunday night to say goodbye to Frank Salazar, Jr. Yuma police are confirming the identification of the 28-year-old shooting victim, who diedMore >>
    YUMA - Friends and family gathered outside Jimmie Dee's bar Sunday night to say goodbye to Frank Salazar, Jr. Yuma police are confirming the identification of the 28-year-old shooting victim, who died outside the local bar early Friday morning.More >>
  • Crime Watch

    Police investigating dead body found in parked car

    Police investigating dead body found in parked car

    YUMA, Ariz. (13 On Your Side) - Yuma police say a dead woman was found in a car parked at Food City on 8th Street on Tuesday night, at around 6:20 p.m. Police are investigating her cause of death andMore >>
    Yuma police are investigating the death of a woman who was found in a parked car Tuesday night.More >>
  • Coming soon...Wal-Mart

    Coming soon...Wal-Mart

    On Wednesday the Yuma City Council voted to change the zoning designation on the proposed land acquired by Wal-Mart. The property located near the intersection of Avenue B and 8th Street was the home of a mobile home park as zones for residential use; the new designation changes that to mixed which will allow the new store to move in to the property. The new store will be the fifth Wal-Mart for Yuma County.More >>
    On Wednesday the Yuma City Council voted to change the zoning designation on the proposed land acquired by Wal-Mart. The property located near the intersection of Avenue B and 8th Street was the home of a mobile home park as zones for residential use; the new designation changes that to mixed which will allow the new store to move in to the property. The new store will be the fifth Wal-Mart for Yuma County.More >>
  • Severed pig heads dumped outside Mexicali Police Department

    Severed pig heads dumped outside Mexicali Police Department

    Mexicali, B.C.--Two severed pig heads were left outside a Mexicali's state police sub-station Wednesday morning. State police said they don't want to jump to conclusions and say its a message from organizedMore >>
    Two severed pig heads were left outside a Mexicali's state police sub-station Wednesday morning.More >>
  • Woman arrested to allegedly smuggling drugs into Calipatria State Prison

    Woman arrested to allegedly smuggling drugs into Calipatria State Prison

    CALIPATRIA, CA - A woman visiting an inmate at a local prison winds up behind bars herself for trying to smuggle in drugs. Calipatria State Prison officials say 25-year-old Veronica Delgado was visitingMore >>
    CALIPATRIA, CA - A woman visiting an inmate at a local prison winds up behind bars herself for trying to smuggle in drugs. Calipatria State Prison officials say 25-year-old Veronica Delgado was visiting an inmate in facility C yesterday, when an officer noticed something in her mouth. More >>
  • Yuma

    Police offer advice for people in a robbery situation

    Police offer advice for people in a robbery situation

    YUMA, AZ (13 On Your Side) - Over the past month there have been a string of convenience store robberies around town. Most recently, one suspect - who police say - robbed three Circle Ks within 48 hours.More >>
    Over the past month there have been a string of convenience store robberies around town.More >>
  • Teen involved in fatal crash may be charged; but as a minor

    Teen involved in fatal crash may be charged; but as a minor

    Earlier this month the Yuma County Attorney's Office reported that they would not seek any charges against 17 year old Andrea Ducos. Ducos who is suspected to have caused the accident that led to the death 96 year old Lucienne Sears will not face any charges as an adult. But, charges are still pending in Juvenile Court; Ducos is facing charges of negligent homicide, aggravated assault, causing death my use of a vehicle, driving without a license and driving while intoxicated. According to a r...More >>
    Earlier this month the Yuma County Attorney's Office reported that they would not seek any charges against 17 year old Andrea Ducos. Ducos who is suspected to have caused the accident that led to the death 96 year old Lucienne Sears will not face any charges as an adult. But, charges are still pending in Juvenile Court; Ducos is facing charges of negligent homicide, aggravated assault, causing death my use of a vehicle, driving without a license and driving while intoxicated. According to a r...More >>