CPS sleep-overs: KGUN9 still asking---CPS still not talking
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - KGUN9 News continuing coverage now on the state's foster family crisis: The state agency that is supposed to help kids in trouble says it has so much trouble finding emergency foster care space that it's actually putting kids up in state office space.
9 On Your Side has found state lawmakers who want to offer emergency help.
Is Child Protective Services saying thanks? Not so kids and taxpayers can hear.
CPS has stopped talking but KGUN9 is pushing to get answers anyway.
When kids are in danger at home, CPS is supposed to remove them to safety. But the agency says it's been so short of foster care space, it's been keeping kids in state offices overnight.
CPS says the kids are supervised, and the office sleep-overs are so rare it hasn't asked the Governor's office for help.
CPS is under the Department of Economic Security. We asked to talk to DES director Clarence Carter---twice.
Friday, the response from Public Information Officer Tasya Petersen was: "Director Carter is confident that the information we have previously provided is comprehensive and sufficient." Our latest request brought an almost word for word, identical turn-down, from a different spokesperson.
Nicole Moon wrote, "Again, we respectfully decline as we feel the information we have previously provided is comprehensive and sufficient."
Before they stopped talking, CPS spokespeople said the office stays are short and very rare and that recruiting more foster parents is the real solution.
Republican State Rep Terri Proud thinks even one sleep-over's an outrage.
"If we've CPS individuals who are saying, no, there's no problem, but they've got children in their office, sticking them there overnight my reaction is are you kidding?"
KGUN9 News is invoking the Arizona Open Records to document if the sleep-overs really are rare.
We have asked for records of what nights and how many nights kids have stayed in CPS offices, how many kids were affected, and their ages and genders.
Representative Proud says she'll push for a special session of the Legislature to consider helping CPS.
Republican lawmakers calling for CPS to be part of a session, include State Rep Vic Williams, and State Senator Frank Antenori. Democrats include State Senator Linda Lopez, and State Rep. Steve Farley
After we talked with Representative Proud Monday, she called the Governor's office and the Speaker of the House asking about a special session that would allow lawmakers to channel more help to CPS, to put an end to the office sleep-overs. And she says she'll be eager hear what our Open Records request turns up.
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