Foster families protest, demand changes in DCS treatment

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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Dozens of foster families protested at the State Capitol yesterday to voice complaints about the Department of Child Safety, or DCS.

Foster parents complained about mistreatment by DCS, and said that they want to see more changes in the department. Many parents say that case works do not treat them with respect, and sometimes disputes result in children being taken from foster homes without warning or real justification.

More than 6,600 children are in the foster care system in the state, but only about 4,400 of these children are with foster families. That number has been declining, and many foster parents are choosing to let their foster licenses go due to the mistreatment.

"Sometimes foster families are bullied," Susann Van Tienderen of Voices for Foster Families said. "Many foster families close out their licenses because of the trauma and heartache they go through."

The case that sparked the rallies involved a woman who had some kind of disagreement with DCS. When she returned home one day, her foster children had been taken by DCS with no explanation, and she still has had no contact with them.

"We have a leader in our group who spoke up for her foster child, she didn't feel there was a good decision made, she disagreed with the case manager," Van Tienderen said. "The children were pulled out of her home and she hasn't spoken to them since."

The DCS admitted that there are problems in the system, and that everyone involved will need to work together to make changes.

"I think a lot of it has to be a culture change," DCS Deputy Director Vicki Mayo said. "It's a holistic thing, it's across the board. It's not just case managers, it's with the judiciary, with all of the partners that come to the table."
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