Child Protective Services struggling to fill jobs

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Sweeping changes are coming to the Arizona Department of Economic Security's Child Protective Services division.

The department has seen a massive increase in tips from the public on its hotline.
“That’s good for the safety of children, but our system is not currently configured to handle that kind of volume,” said Clarence Carter, director of CPS and the Department of Economic Security.
The department currently has 785 employees, after a number of case workers resigned in the past few months.
There are currently around 30 job openings, and the department loses an average of nearly 30% of its work force each year, which is higher than the national average for similar offices.
“The truth is we had asked our labor force to do a lot of extra work. About 200,000 hours that had no value,” said Carter.
Carter, in conjunction with Governor Brewer’s task force on child safety, is working to improve the department and maintain workers.
Specifically, there will be continued cutbacks in unnecessary work given to case managers that does not benefit children. Additionally, the process for handling hotline calls and the investigation process are being revamped.
Carter is also reaching out to law enforcement, the courts, and health care professionals to protect children at every step, and keep clear records of instances of abuse from the start of the investigative process until the finish. However, that is an ongoing process.
“There are places in our state where that relationship is finely tuned, but there are other places where it is not,” he said.
While Carter acknowledges that CPS is working to battle the staffing problems, he noted that there are just some parts of the job that are going to drive workers away, and that is a nationwide problem.
“The things that people can imagine to do to a child are absolutely unconscionable,” said Carter, “this is one of the most difficult jobs in public service.”