Fixing Arizona's child welfare system requires input from those outside of the government structure, a children's advocacy group says.
Children's Action Alliance and members of a state-appointed team investigating problems with Arizona's Child Protective services agency will ask the public to discuss the proposal to rebuild the CPS system this year.
The groups are holding a forum Thursday at the Tucson Jewish Community Center, 3800 E. River Road, and they want people to tell state lawmakers how to change the child welfare status quo, said David Higuera, Southern Arizona director of the Children's Action Alliance.
"We know we have a system that is failing children and families so not only do we need to 'fix' CPS quote unquote, but we also need to look at what are the services that we used to provide that we no longer do that would enable families to stay healthy and strong and allow children to stay safely with their families," Higuera said.
One example is a reduction to child care subsidies, he said. The state provides money to help some families pay for child care, but the amount has been reduced. This decision can lead to other child welfare issues, Higuera said.
"The bulk of this evening is to provide the public with this opportunity to say what are the actions that can be taken to ensure our children are safe and healthy?" he said.
The intended audience receiving the comments is state lawmakers, and Higuera said several have already committed to attending.
At the end of the event, Southern Arizona lawmakers will discuss what they plan to do for children during this legislative session, Higuera said.
Then, Children’s Action Alliance will compile all the public comments and send a report to all state lawmakers. Gov. Jan Brewer moved the CPS system into her direct control this year, in a move to bring more accountability from the system plagued with problems, cases gone uninvestigated and in some cases, child deaths.
Brewer asked state lawmakers to redesign the children's welfare arm of the state during the 2014 legislative session.