CREATED Jan 15, 2013 - UPDATED: Jan 16, 2013
CATALINA FOOTHILLS, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - Governor Jan Brewer is calling for changes at a state agency that's been riddled with issues. Her proposal would add 200 staff members to Child Protective Services' team.
Giving her annual State of the State address to a group of businessmen and women near Tucson, the Republican governor placed her proposal toward the top of her speech. She gave a verison of that speech in Phoenix Monday.
“Leaders of this state can have no higher priority than the safety of children in state care,” she told the crowd at the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce event at the Westin La Paloma.
Read her full speech online.
Her plan is to hire 50 new caseworkers and supervisors immediately with emergency state funding and add 150 more with the next state budget. CPS told KGUN9 it has 1,075 caseworkers at the moment.
Both parts of the governor's proposals require the legislature's approval.
For months, KGUN9’s reported on issues at CPS. Most recently, it ultimately said it was a “misunderstanding” when it stopped meetings between troubled kids and their parents. Read this 9 on Your Side Viewers' Voice for more.
How specifically will new caseworkers help? KGUN9 asked the governor.
Reporter Kevin Keen asked her, “CPS leadership has avoided some questions from the media, but what have they told you about how these new 150 caseworkers will help?” “We know, after having my task force dealing on all of this, that people will be able to get responded to so much quicker and that we can get in front of the eight ball and not behind the eight ball,” Brewer answered. “It's going to take money and it's going to take people that are well trained in order to do that. That truly is a major goal of mine.”
In her yearly policy agenda, Brewer also proposed having staff further prioritize cases of abused and neglected children, create an online abuse reporting system, cut paperwork and recruit more foster and adoptive families.