Foster care crisis--CPS doesn't speak; foster parent does
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Arizona's foster family crisis: Too many kids- and not enough families willing to take them in. It's so bad- some nights, kids are sleeping in office buildings.
KGUN9 On Your Side has been challenging officials for solutions. CPS is calling for more foster parents. That's part of a long term solution but training and screening will take months.
We think it's appropriate to ask the director of CPS' parent agency about new developments: like how we learned a number of state lawmakers are willing to push for a special session to channel emergency assistance to the agency.
The e-mailed response from CPS spokeswoman Tasya Peterson: "Director (Clarence) Carter is confident that the information we have previously provided is comprehensive and sufficient."
And we were urged to have a nice weekend.
CPS says it's rare to resort to housing kids in office space but people we talk to are still concerned.
At the Assembly of God Church near Broadway and Campbell CPS kids, and young adults just out of CPS care but still getting help from the state are browsing through a gym packed with donated clothes. The state gives these growing kids just 150 dollars for clothes each year.
That's why Tierra Antigua Realty pulled together these clothes donations to help them get ready for school. Event organizer Kim Clifton says they helped some other kids recently---kids staying overnight in a CPS office because there was no emergency foster care space.
She says, "I think that's kind of a rare thing from what I've heard but when we did hear about they were supposedly about 13 kids we provided sheets and pillows for them. We're always here to fill an immediate need as well."
CPS says office sleep-overs are rare, but why should they happen at all?
The agency says there's such a shortage of foster care, when it's too dangerous to leave a child in his or her home, it can be better to have them bunk in a CPS office, with workers to watch them.
Edward Motzkin has raised dozens of foster kids over 35 years.
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked: "Has there ever been a time where CPS seemed like it ran smoothly, and reliably served the interests of families and kids?"
Motzkin: "In all honesty, there's too much politics for that to happen. There's politics between the administration of CPS and the Legislature and the budgets and what have you. In a perfect world it could work nicely but unfortunately, we're not in a perfect world."
Motzkin suspects CPS could find more foster home space with a more thorough survey of the many private foster care agencies CPS contracts with.
He hopes more people will come forward to be foster parents but he says budget problems are part of the problem. State payments to foster parents were never supposed to be any more than enough to cover a child's expenses but now payments are at the point foster parents can fall below break-even.
The more KGUN9 News looks at this issue, the more questions we have, and the more reason to continue to press CPS for answers.
Here are the local agencies CPS contracts with to provide foster care:
• A Place To Call Home
• AmeriPsych (General Health Corporation)
• Arizona Baptist Children Services
• Arizona Partnership for Children
• Arizona's Children Association
• Casa De Los Ninos
• Christian Family Care Agency
• CPES, Counseling and Consulting Services
• Intermountain Centers for Human Development
• La Paloma Family Services
• Providence of Arizona