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Children in danger? CPS fails to check 6000 warning calls

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Children in danger? CPS fails to check 6000 warning calls

By Craig Smith. CREATED Nov 22, 2013

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - KGUN9 has investigated plenty of stories that question how well our state's Child Protective Services lives up to its name.  Now the chief of that agency concedes it heard thousands of calls claiming kids were in danger and never checked them out.

DES/CPS director Clarence Carter conceded how many children CPS did not protect.

"We know it has resulted in six thousand cases where we are not sure whether or not children are in harm's way."
       
State law says CPS must check every claim a child is in danger.  Agency Chief Clarence Carter told lawmakers he found out only this week thousands of calls to the CPS hotline were marked, "N-I", not investigated,  and that practice reached back four years.

That revelation outrages State Senator Steve Farley of Tucson: "Shouldn't someone have had the right to stand up and say, there's kids in trouble, we're not even checking out whether kids are in trouble?"
     
Senator Farley understands CPS workers are stretched thin but he thinks the agency's director has been afraid to ask lawmakers for enough money to really deal with huge caseloads.
       
Jan Wallace is Behavioral Health Director for Casa De Los Ninos but she was a CPS worker who knows the value of seeing a child's situation.

"You don't really know until you go out and investigate but they haven't had the resources to dispatch people for all of those investigations."

CPS Director Carter portrayed the un-investigated calls as a effort to stretch resources that went wrong. 

Senator Farley says it's time for Carter to go.
     
Governor Jan Brewer hired Carter and has the power to fire him.  She describes what happened as an inexcusable failure and has assigned the Department of Public Safety to investigate what happened.

Craig Smith

Craig Smith

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Craig enjoys using innovative writing and visuals to make difficult stories easier to understand. As a newsroom manager at KGUN 9, Craig was part of the team that won three best newscast awards from Arizona Associated Press