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Mar 25, 2014 12:30 AM by Kristi Tedesco

AZ House working late on child welfare budget

PHOENIX - House lawmakers are working late into the night on a budget for FY 2015 that would include millions of dollars to overhaul Arizona's child welfare system.

Governor Jan Brewer issued the challenge in her State of the State address 2-months ago. Her urgent message, to fix the "broken" Child Protective Services.

So far, mixed results. Of the nearly 66-hundred child abuse and neglect calls ignored by the CPS hotline, only 77-remain unchecked. Also, a critical independent review of CPS has been completed.

That said, the Department of Public Safety hasn't finished its investigation, and the legislature hasn't supplied the money to create the newly formed "Division of Child Welfare and Family Services." That agency is virually frozen until lawmakers agree on its funding.

At this point, the Governor and lawmakers are very far apart on their budgetary breakdowns.
For example, Brewer wants almost $10-million dollars ($9.7 million) for 140-new, full time investigators, case workers and support staff. The Senate, in its proposed budget, only allotted $3.5 million, for 50 new FTE's.

State Representative Victoria Steele tells Kristi's Kids, children will keep dying in Arizona without prevention. She says, Republicans "... are going to need to fund services that help keep struggling families from falling into crisis. These efforts should include addressing child care, relationship violence and hunger..."

State Senator Steve Farley agrees. He tells Kristi's Kids, "...We must restore funding to prevention programs that were proven to keep kids out of trouble, but were cut in the past five years..."

Both Farley and Steele want more child welfare investigators, case workers and support staff.

Stay with News 4 Tucson and Kristi's Kids for the latest on this developing story.

If you have a story you'd like Kristi's Kids to investigate, send an email to kristiskids@kvoa.com

To learn more about child welfare and the proposed AZ budget, click here.

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