5/29/2014 2:02:00 PM Editorial: More care, less haste needed to create child welfare agency
Haste makes waste, which is not a good harbinger for the newly forming Department of Child Safety.
The new agency has been sorely needed in Arizona after years of troubles at Child Protective Services within the Department of Economic Security. Many of the ideas being incorporated into the new autonomous agency are solid and necessary.
However, there is a sense of impulsiveness, even rashness, in the charge forward. There are still too many questions about financial accountability hanging about the new legislation that creates the agency. The last thing the Department of Child Safety needs is the same mess existing at CPS.
The last thing the children of Arizona need is another irresponsible bureaucracy.
A Department of Child Safety is the right way to go. Making it a cabinet-level agency is also the right way to go.
The Legislature and the governor, however, need to be very meticulous about this process rather than emotional. There was too little anger for too long over the failures in CPS. After the "discovery" of thousands of un-investigated complaints of abuse, the anger now spilling over should not be an alibi for sloppy decisions.
CPS had problems that were caused by lack of funding. The new agency will have around $830 million to start with, nearly double CPS's last budget. That will ease some of the predicament.
Yet, the problems not caused by tight budgets but by bad policies, poorly trained workers and Gordian knots of red tape will not be solved by all the money in the world. This is where the Legislature must be careful.
Arizona has a great opportunity to build an agency that is effective and efficient, with strong and clear policies and guiding principles. This should not be just cleaning house but completely moving house, and in a prudent way that ensures taxpayer dollars are used to the greatest benefit of the children.
Otherwise, creating a new agency is just a hasty exercise in vanity.
Given the flaccid gubernatorial line-up, I'm surprised Governor Brewer didn't set up a trust fund with an automatic funding formula and explicit criteria for releasing additional funds. There is no way a new cabinet-level agency can spend that much money wisely while under the gun to get it all done before the General Election.
Posted: Saturday, May 31, 2014
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