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Dec 2, 2013 11:22 PM by Rebecca Taylor

Child advocacy groups react to new task force overseeing CPS investigations

TUCSON - Arizona's child welfare system is once again in the spotlight. Governor Jan Brewer announcing an independent team to oversee the investigation of CPS cases.

Here are the quick facts: CPS recently made national headlines after officials disclosed that 6,000 calls for help were never investigated. Those reports were generated by the state's child abuse hotline. Child advocacy groups are asking that the agency's leader Clarence Carter resign. He was handpicked by Governor Brewer three years ago.

All this is having a direct impact on local child welfare agencies like Casa de los Niños. They care for youngsters while CPS case managers decide their family's fate.

Casa's CEO Susie Huhn says with 6,000 cases uninvestigated and another 10,000 thousand existing cases that haven't been managed in two months or longer, Arizona is failing it's children.

"It's a scary thought. It needs to be cleaned up quickly because we don't know what's in them, or what kind of endangerment there is to children," says Huhn, "So I'm glad she's putting together quality oversight."

Governor Brewer called a press conference Monday announcing the creation of the Child Advocate Response Examination Team, CARE Team for short. It consists of government and child advocates, and two lawmakers.

"This CARE Team that's I've appointed will report to me, and will directly oversee the CPS staff investigating these cases," Governor Brewer said.

Charles Flanagan, Director of the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections adds, "We as the CARE Team are going to be looking at two different things, one the allegations of these children, getting our eyes on them making sure they're safe. And two to look at the system, and find ways to prevent this from ever happening again."

For Huhn it's a step in the right direction.

"We've already been effected by the immense growth of child abuse reports in Arizona, and what that means is there's an ever increasing need for our services, whether it's visitation, parent aid, shelter services or behavioral health, we've really worked hard the past couple years to keep up," says Huhn. "Staff up, train and build capacity to serve the growing need we've seen from families."

As for Clarence Carter, who oversees CPS, so far Governor Brewer is rejecting calls to replace him.

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