Brewer 'abolishes' Arizona's troubled CPS

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX --  The man Governor Jan Brewer asked to head her redesigned Child Protective Services agency calls it a privilege and a challenge.

Charles Flanagan, who oversees the Department of Juvenile Corrections, will get a seat at the governor's cabinet table. He says it will bring more accountability and visibility to CPS.

"There will be much more transparency, so the public will know what we're doing, as opposed to what existed before," Flanagan told 3TV.

On Monday, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer used her annual State of the State address Monday to announce decisive action to overhaul the state's child welfare agency, pulling Child Protective Services from its current department and placing it under the oversight of a new Cabinet-level post reporting directly to the governor.

Brewer called the executive order that "abolished CPS as we know it" a critical step to protect children in the state, a move made more pressing by the discovery in November of more than 6,500 uninvestigated child abuse and neglect reports.

The future of Department of Economic Security officials, and Director Clarence Carter, who oversaw CPS, is unclear.

"I have no idea what's going to happen with Clarence Carter, but I'll need to communicate with him to get the resources to do the job we're doing," Flanagan said.

The resources include upgrades to technology, and more caseworkers.  Flanagan says caseloads in Arizona are 177% of the national standard, and caseworker turnover is "horrendous," due to stress and burn-out.

"We clearly do not have enough employees on the line level who are out checking the welfare of children who are at risk in the state."

Flanagan says the restructuring is more than putting a new name on an old, failing agency.

"[Governor Brewer] has an absolute interest in seeing the problem solved and in leaving a positive legacy at CPS," he said.