STATE MOVES TO REFORM CPS
posted by Amer Taleb
Jacob Gibson arrived at the hospital with his rib cage protruding, fully seizing and marked with welts that appeared to be caused by a belt. The 6 year old eventually died, the victim of his own parents.
For at least three years, Child Protective Services knew about the alleged beatings Jacob was subjected to. CPS had received five reports alleging the child was abused and neglected under the "care” of his parents, according to the Department of Economic Security.
Less than two months later on Oct. 7, 2011, Gov. Jan Brewer formed the Arizona Child Safety Task Force to examine Arizona’s child-safety policies and issue recommendations by the end of 2011.
Its findings: Internal improvements to CPS aren’t enough to bring Arizona’s child-safety policies up to adequate standards.
Reforming Arizona’s protection policies requires progress all over the board - law enforcement, schools and foster families, the report says.
Suggestions included developing better definitions of child abuse, reviewing a CPS worker’s authority to verify a child’s safety against a parent’s will and making CPS employee disciplinary records and hearings public.
Abuse, neglect and abandonment forced more than 10,000 children into out-of-home care across Arizona as of March 2010, according to the Department of Economic Security. Nearly 50 percent of them are between 1-5.
“That is an issue (CPS reform) that I think is really important to the people in Arizona and certainly to the children,” Brewer said in a recent Arizona Week show. “(Children) are the unfortunate benefactors of that abuse.”
Friday's Arizona Week will focus on state efforts to reform CPS, including interviews with state officials and child-safety advocates.