Lethargic Child Welfare System Sleeps over Child Abuse Cases

At the end of last year, the director of Arizona’s child welfare system said that thousands of child abuse hotline reports await investigation, and there was no data to ascertain that the children were at that time safe from the risk of abuse.

The Department of Economic Security Director Clarence Carter said the head of the Office of Child Welfare Investigations brought the issue of child abuse cases to their notice in November last year.

Talking about the issue, Carter said that 6,000 cases were marked as not requiring investigations since 2009. According to the department, the number of child abuse hotline cases has escalated since a new hotline system was launched.

The news broke out on CBS 5 News to the utter dismay of parents and caregivers who questioned the efficiency of the system in providing protection to their kids. Below are the details of the issue and suggestions for parents as to how to handle the situation.

Unattended Calls

In a move seemingly made with the intention of damage control, Carter had said back then that his office had already initiated the process of reviewing all 6,000 cases. According to him, at least 125 cases had already been identified and waiting to be investigated.

Talking to CBS 5 News, Carter said the Office of Child Welfare Investigations would be brought in to sieve through the remaining pending cases in child abuse investigation, while the Department of Public Safety was called in for an independent audit. Later he made claims of making accountable the persons responsible for this critical error. Now where have we heard that before?

On the other hand, the head of the Child Welfare Investigations Unit said that the agency was facing sharp budget cuts leading to a less resourceful department.

Loss of Trust

This horrific incident has led to the disintegration of trust among parents/caregivers of children in the state apparatuses handling issues of child abuse.

Governor Brewer released the following statement after the case was made public:

"As governor and as a mother, safeguarding Arizona's children has been a top priority of mine. That's why it is not only heartbreaking, but unconscionable to find out that thousands of cases within CPS have gone uninvestigated, potentially involving vulnerable, abused and neglected Arizona children. This is absolutely unacceptable.”

On the other hand, Child Protective Services Oversight Committee member Rep Debbie McCune Davis sent a statement to CBS 5 News that mentioned Carter as the guilty party. The statement read, “The bottom line is he should have asked the governor for the resources he needed to do the work of protecting Arizona's children. He did not do that, and now he lacks the credibility to lead this agency. Going forward, the governor should appoint a multidisciplinary team led by the Department of Public Safety to investigate this problem. There must be accountability."

Parents Should Act Immediately

Apart from protecting children and making an effort to keep them away from predators, parents are also required to be in-the-know about their state’s children protection and welfare institutions. You should thoroughly study the rules of these departments and ask questions when you don’t understand something. After all, the right to question is a fundamental human right.

Keeping a follow-up on cases of child abuse in your immediate surroundings would also keep the authorities on their feet due to public pressure. Last but not the least, start educating people around you about the issue of child abuse and you can together find new methods to fight off this social plague to the bitter end.

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