Gov. Jan Brewer recently announced her creation of an independent Child Advocate Response Examination Team (CARE Team) that is charged with providing oversight for the investigations of cases that were designated as “not investigated” by Arizona Child Protective Services (CPS). The independent CARE Team also will examine the CPS system to identify areas of concern. The review will include consideration of personnel, operations, processes, and policies. Once areas of improvement are identified, the team will submit a summary of its finding to Brewer.
“Failure to investigate even one, let alone thousands of cases of potential child abuse is absolutely inexcusable and undermines people’s confidence in the system that is charged with protecting the welfare of Arizona’s children,” said Brewer. “Every case must be investigated, period.
“In creating the independent ‘CARE Team,’ I seek to ensure that there is thorough, transparent and independent oversight of the investigation into each of these neglected cases. Moreover, it must help serve to restore public trust in a child welfare system that was further undermined by this unconscionable practice.”
The CARE Team is chaired by Charles Flanagan, Director of the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections. Other team members include Arizona State Senator Leah Landrum Taylor; Arizona State Representative Kate Brophy McGee; Robert Bell, Children’s Justice Coordinator at the Childhelp Children’s Center of Arizona; Cindi Nannetti, a veteran prosecutor with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office; Deb Gullett, child advocate and former legislator; Greg McKay, Chief of the Office of Child Welfare Investigations (OCWI); Jan Strauss, a former Mesa Police Chief; and a CPS representative (TBD).
The Team will oversee CPS staff investigating cases designated “NI” and report directly to Brewer.
“I greatly appreciate that each member I sought for this Team was willing to step up and serve in this important mission,” Brewer added. “I know they do so because of their deep commitment and caring for Arizona’s children.”
The Office of Child Welfare Investigations (OCWI), which uncovered the practice within CPS to disposition cases as “not investigated,” was created as a result of reforms formulated by Brewer and implemented during her administration. It is headed by Chief Greg McKay and employs child welfare investigators to handle criminal conduct allegations of child abuse. From the time of its discovery, Brewer insisted CPS’ practice be publicly exposed and the situation swiftly addressed head on, to investigate each case and ensure the safety of children.