Will CPS help restore supervised child visits?
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Being separated from your children is difficult, but not knowing when you'll see them next is unbearable.
That's what some parents fear will happen if Arizona Child Protective Services doesn't find more money---and soon---for private agencies that supervise visits. As of now local agencies for handle supervised visits under CPS contract say that money has run out.
Even if you've had so much trouble in your family, your child's in state custody, you usually have a right to see that child---under supervision.
Now agencies doing that supervision for the state say demand is so high they've spent all the money in their state contracts.
That leaves parents wondering how they'll have their visits, and KGUN9 asking what the state will do to solve all this.
"It's just not knowing now that scares me cause I love my children very much and I really want to see them. That's what brings me week up from all the stuff that's I'm going through."
Margarita Verdugo is not sure how she'll be able to have the supervised visits with her children she needs, so the state will give them back to her.
Aviva, the private agency that supervised those visits says its' money from CPS has run out, so it's had to lay off the workers the program needed.
Susie Huhn of Casa De Los Ninos says just before we talked, the transportation service hired to bring the kids in for 13 visits Saturday, said there's no money left in it's CPS contract so the vans will not roll.
Huhn says her agency and 10 others may have to layoff workers in the programs that supervise visits between troubled parents and kids.
She says there's been such a surge in families that need help, agencies like hers ran through a year's budget in half that time---and warned CPS this would happen.
Huhn says, "In fact by September and October in provider meetings we were telling DES if you keep the referral rate up as high as it's been we are all gonna run out of money soon."
CPS let us question the Child Welfare Program's director, and her deputy.
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked: "If an agency comes to you and says, we're out of money. We've shot through our contracts, the demands are so high, we can't provide these services, what then?"
Deputy director Stacy Reinstein said, "And just like all organizations should, the Division is looking at being fiscally responsible and managing to our budget."
The CPS officials go on to say if private contractors need services beyond the current budget they'll re-evaluate but we never heard them say how they close these money gaps in the six months before the next state budget kick in, in July.
Without more money for the contracted agencies the supervised visits will probably fall to regular CPS workers----the same workers who we hear over and over are already buried in huge backlogs of work.