A federal class action lawsuit has been filed against the state Departments of Child Safety and Health Services on behalf of ten children currently in state foster care. The suit claims major deficiencies in the system, but as Arizona Public Radio’s Justin Regan Reports, some argue a lack of funding is to blame.
Tamera Shanker is a Phoenix-based juvenile lawyer and the board chair for the Arizona Friends of Foster Children. She says many of Child Protective Services’ problems started in 2009 when the state legislature cut the agency’s budget in half. CPS responded by dropping all preemptive programs.
“Subsidized day care, health care, the family preservations teams that would come in and support a family so that the kids wouldn’t be taken into care. All of that was completely eviscerated. And, what we found at that point then is an exponential increase since 2009 in kids coming into care,” said Shanker.
Shanker also says she has not seen any change in the system since then Governor Brewer re-built the agency as the Department of Child Safety last year. The lawsuit claims a lack of health care for children and that the agencies failed to investigate allegations of abuse among other issues.
Though the governor’s office would not comment specifically on the lawsuit, they are reviewing the filing. But, in an email statement to KNAU said “Governor Ducey takes the safety and well-being of foster care children extremely seriously.”