Child Protection Services lacking resources
By Natasha Reeves
To add to the struggles for youth in Arizona, there has been a dramatic increase in abuse and neglect reported to Child Protective Services (CPS). The number of children going into foster care has risen, while the amount of foster caretakers is dropping. Arizona has a bad track record when it comes to taking care of their young. The state has the worst education system in the United States since 2006, ranking 50th in the Education Index. There is a lingering threat of the “Wrongful Life and Wrongful Birth” suit, which could still be signed by the governor. This bill would allow doctors to keep information about birth defects from a pregnant mother. There is also a lack of funding for CPS and an increase in child abuse.
As for statistics of the recent state of CPS, 12,649 children in Arizona were in foster care on March 31. There has been a 12 percent increase in abuse and 20 percent increase in neglect. In 2010, 23 children died from abuse and neglect.
For a state that is pro-life, there are issues with preserving life that already exists. There are child advocates who claim CPS is failing to seek the resources it needs to respond to a growing caseload. There are many children put into the system who have no say in their future. “I have never been involved in any court decision when it comes to placement or anything of that nature,” said Bryan Kelly, who has been in the foster care system for 11 years, in an interview with The Arizona Republic. There are children allowed to make some decisions for their future regarding living situations and visitation from birth parents; however, there is little information given to them, making it difficult to make a concrete decision. “The system has thrown me around so much it has developed a pattern in my mind,” Kelly said. “There’s a 50-50 chance I might not be there that long. So why get attached?”
There needs to be reform to the CPS system; a reform that allows more visitation from the birth parents, therapy and better legal representation for children. CPS has certain programs for parents who want their children back such as counseling and random drug test. Through this list of services exist a lot of the parents who want their kids back and aren’t getting the counseling and relationship building programs they are ordered to take because of the lack of funding and the overload of cases. Not only are the children getting overlooked, so are the parents who are trying to work to gain back their parental rights. CPS has become more like the Department of Motor Vehicles, where people are just agonizingly waiting rather than actually helping families who are in dire situations. Besides giving more rights and stability to children, CPS should also concentrate on helping the parents who are interested in raising their children again.
While funding is an issue that won’t be solved until more money is available through the state, the child-welfare system needs to still become a priority for the state. There is a lack of maintenance in the system that cannot continue to go unnoticed.