CPS office sleep-over: What can lawmakers do to help?

Photo: Video by kgun9.com

CPS office sleep-over: What can lawmakers do to help?

CREATED Jul. 26, 2012

Reporter: Craig Smith

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Troubled kids forced to sleep in CPS offices. 

What are state lawmakers going to do about it?

Nine wants to know and we're finding out.
Those kids are bedding down in offices because CPS does not have enough foster homes.

But why can't we do any better? Why can't the state? That's what Nine wants to know...

CPS says in an emergency, keeping kids in an office is safer than leaving them where they could face abuse. But why can't the state come up with some sort of temporary lodging better than an office where they have to improvise ways for kids to sleep, eat and stay clean?

To help kids, we found lawmakers from both parties willing to work fast.

Democratic State Rep Steve Farley says, "We need to treat our kids a heck of a lot better and we need to start it now."

Republican State Rep Vic Williams says, "We want to fund and help those people who are truly vulnerable like these children in CPS."

KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked Farley: "What can be done and how quickly can it be done?" 

Farley: "We need to get new CPS people there.  We need to be able to find new foster families and that gonna take awhile; and we need to make sure there may be temporary dorms with people hired to make sure those kids are safe instead of just sitting in an office and asking people for donations."
Farley blames a lot of CPS problems on years of Republican budget cuts.
But Republican State Rep Vic Williams says to help a vulnerable group like troubled kids---there's enough money in the budget now for emergency funding.

Craig Smith asked: "When you say emergency.  How quickly could something actually happen?" 

Williams: "I don't technically know, but I can say this.  How quickly could something like this happen?  We could start on it tomorrow.  If the governor would be willing to call a special session, we could make appropriations through the Legislature and have an emergency session and have it down within 24, 48 hours, 72 hours.  It's something I think that's just a matter of the will of the Legislature to get out and help fix this problem."
The Governor would have to call a special session with support from leaders of the State House and Senate.

We left messages with the Speaker of the House and Senate President.
Governor's spokesman Matt Benson says no one likes kids sleeping in offices but it's infrequent and short term.
As for special funding he says, in part: "Governor Brewer is always willing to consider requests from her State agencies... To date, I'm not aware that any such request has been made by DES."

We certainly had to ask DES, the parent agency for CPS, about that. 

Their spokesperson says, it is true CPS has not asked for any sort of help for a better place to keep kids while arranging foster care.
The CPS spokesperson says they resort to offices infrequently and for a few hours at a time and want to put the emphasis on recruiting new foster families. But we also know it takes months to have foster families screened and trained before they can take in a child.