/ Modified jan 31, 2014 3:03 p.m.

CARE Team: CPS Lacks Standards, Has Inexperienced Staff, Needs Systemic Change

Independent group created by Brewer says steps must be taken to fix a broken child welfare system.

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Arizona's child safety and welfare system is broken and the creation of a separate department is a critical and necessary first step to fix it, according to an independent team put together by by Gov. Jan Brewer to review CPS.

The Child Advocate Response Examination, also known as CARE team, delivered its first report Friday identifying areas that need improvement and making several recommendations.

"Child Protective Services lacks performance standards, has inexperienced supervisors and employees receive insufficient training," the report said.

The governor pulled CPS from its parent agency in early January, and formed the CARE team to review the 6,554 abuse and neglect reports found to not have been investigated by CPS.

The report said all those cases have been assigned to investigators, and experts have removed 400 children from unsafe situations.

During the investigation, which started in December, the CARE team learned that the thousands of cases not investigated happened because of a lack of accountability and transparency in the system, as well as bad decision making.

To prevent that from happening again, the team recommended the child welfare agency must be properly staffed, and needs to have teams that include law enforcement and social service experts.

The report also mentioned that the high wait times on the CPS hotline causes more than 800 people to hang up each week before they can talk to a CPS representative.

"There is a broad consensus that the agency needs a clear mission in statute, as well as the resources to do the job of protecting vulnerable children and providing family services that allow, once child safety is assured, family preservation, family reunification and permanency," the report concluded.

Read the CARE Team's report here.

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