Ducey calls on anti-abortion group to help the already bornPosted: Updated:
By Jennifer Thomas
PHOENIX (AP) -- Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Wednesday called on members of a social conservative group that wields great power at the Capitol to become engaged in child safety issues as well as its anti-abortion focus.
Ducey spoke at the Center for Arizona Policy's annual "Day at the Capitol" event. The group was an early Ducey supporter in his 2014 election campaign. It strongly opposes abortion and crafts legislation to restrict access to it, as well as school choice and religious liberty laws.
Ducey said he was "proudly pro-life" and plans to work with the center on its agenda.
But he also said there are 16,900 children "outside the womb" that are wards of the state and he called on the group's members to take on that issue as well.
"And I'm asking specifically for your help as an organization, the faith-based community, to re-engage in this issue of child safety," Ducey told several hundred people gathered at the event. "Whether it's foster parents, whether it's adoption, whether it's as court appointed special advocates for these children, these are the most vulnerable in our society and they are in many situations not being cared for properly."
The remarks came a day after Ducey named a new director for the state's new Child Safety Department. The department was created last year after the discovery that more than 6,000 child abuse and neglect reports fielded by the state's hotline had been illegally closed without an investigation. Then-Gov. Jan Brewer removed the old Child Protective Services agency from its parent agency and asked the Legislature to create the child safety department.
The group was mainly on the sideline of that debate.
The center's president, Cathi Herrod, said her group had worked on child safety issues but acknowledged it could do more.
"We have been involved, somewhat, on that issue, and I have been involved with the prior administration," she said. "We can do more and we can do so much better."
Ducey said after his speech that it just wasn't the Center for Arizona Policy and faith-based groups he wants to help.
"I'm calling everyone out," Ducey said. "I want to bring awareness to this issue."
Ducey also was asked why he also named two management experts to the department of Child Safety as well as a new director, Greg McKay. McKay has little management experience and that move was unusual because department heads usually pick their own deputies.
"There's nothing like strong senior management to make an enterprise work," Ducey said. "So we identified Greg's strengths, and we also looked where there was opportunity for improvement in that organization."
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