Arizona Legislative Committee Passes Bills To Help With DCS Workload
A bill changing what the Arizona child welfare agency is required to investigate is one step closer to becoming law. A legislative committee approved the bill Monday.
The proposal would limit what qualifies as a report of child abuse and neglect. The amended bill exempts non-criminal reports of child abuse and neglect if the alleged conduct happened more than three years ago.
The original legislation would have narrowed it even further. It would have exempted non-criminal reports of child abuse and neglect if the alleged conduct happened more than a year ago and if victim was at least 12 years old when it occurred.
Arizona Department of Child Safety Director Greg McKay said this would allow the agency to better target its resources.
“There’s limits to where our government agency can be 24/7, 365. The intent of this is to make sure that where we are really a value to protecting vulnerable people," McKay said.
He said DCS fielded 135,000 calls reporting allegations of abuse and neglect in the last year which turned into 52,000 reports for investigation. The bill also states for a report to be investigated the victim would have to be in the state and the incident must have happened in Arizona.
The House Children and Family Affairs Committee also took steps to get the backlog of inactive cases under control. A case becomes inactive when a worker doesn’t enter case notes into the agencies computer system for more than two months. In January, DCS reported the backlog was more than 13,800 cases.
Rep. John Allen proposed legislation that would allow the department to contract with private agencies to help with the workload.
“The department has done a very good job of reigning in the problems with the growth of the backlog. Now it’s a time to get rid of the backlog,” he said.
The agency was given $29 million in state and federal money to eliminate the backlog of inactive cases as of June 2, 2014, which was 13,024.