CPS: Child welfare agencies and lawmakers react to Governor's call to add CPS resources
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - When Governor Brewer announced solving problems in CPS should be a priority, she joined a chorus of parents, state lawmakers and private child welfare agencies 9 On Your Side has been telling you about for months.
Now, what do they think of her call for some changes?
CPS has had too little money, to deal with far too many troubled families. Lack of emergency shelters had kids sleeping on office floors. It cut funding for court-ordered parent-child visits and parents struggled to see their kids around Christmas.,
Among lawmakers KGUN9 found even budget conservatives who'd consider passing emergency CPS funding.
The agency said it didn't need it.
Aviva Children's Services had to stop parent-child visits and lay off workers when CPS suddenly stopped funding supervised visits. CPS has since said the funding stop was "a misunderstanding" and has gradually resumed funding.
KGUN 9 reporter Craig Smith asked Aviva Director Bob Heslinga: "Now the Governor is using terms like emergency. What do you think of that change of tune?"
Heslinga: "It's about time. What more can I say? It wasn't necessary and now we see that it is. Well, it's been necessary."
Now Aviva director Bob Heslinga says he wants to see specifics in the Governor's budget request.
State Senator Linda Lopez thinks the Governor had been waiting for DES director Clarence Carter to say he needed more budget, but he was afraid asking would anger conservative lawmakers.
Senator Lopez says, "He's known all along all of these issues needed to be addressed but he's refused to do it."
State Senator Steve Farley says last month he wrote the Governor and the DES director saying if CPS needed more money to help save kids, they should ask for it.
He says, "Apparently now this is an admission that they do need more funds and I'm very happy they've come forward and said it's time to do this on an emergency basis and I really praise the Governor for having the guts to come forward and doing that."
The director at Casa De Los Ninos says the Governor's speech was more about the budget to cover next year than it was about emergency money to fix troubles now.
"And it does fund the growth. Part of it's more case managers. Part of it's to fund the new investigative unit they're hiring currently for."
You know who's invisible in all this discussion? DES director Clarence Carter. We've been asking to interview him for months. Lawmakers tell us he doesn't respond to them either.
Wednesday we talked to new State Rep Ethan Orr. He says it really troubles him when people in charge of agencies behave like that. He's been working on ideas to make well qualified foster families available to CPS more quickly.