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Final Word: Arizona CPS failures highlight problem of big government

The problems at Arizona's former Child Protective Services agency highlight the problems with the size of government.

Not that the government shouldn't be in the business of protecting the welfare of children. The kids that Arizona's child welfare agency reaches out and saves are the kids who don't have anyone else to look after them. A society is only as healthy as its most vulnerable citizens.

But when the same government (in this case, the state of Arizona) is in the business of having an agency to protect those kids, deliver benefits to the needy families they live with, provide legal representation to that agency AND prosecute the alleged child abusers they may encounter, you're sure to encounter some problems.

Add to that the fact the state also sets the budget for the protective agency, and is under annual pressure to keep that budget as low as possible, your problems become disastrous.

Last year, CPS in Arizona came under fire when it was discovered that more than 6,500 complaints of child abuse and neglect had been mislabeled and thus NOT investigated by CPS workers. Gov, Jan Brewer quickly stepped in and called for a DPS investigation and issued an executive order separating CPS from the Department of Economic Security.

Not only is DES the largest state agency, it was one that had several necessary firewalls in it's virtual building to try to ensure that investigators and benefits handlers weren't working at the same desk.

As a result of the investigation, five CPS workers and their supervisor were fired from their jobs, but the director of DES, the larger agency, kept his job.

Brewer gave the job of running the new, separate protective agency to a new Director.

The five fired workers say they were just following orders, and that they weren't able to look into all the cases because the funds weren't there.

In truth, the cause of protecting children is ever popular. Appropriating the funds to do so is not.

The size of government problem here is with one particular agency. DES should never have been expected to handle all those jobs.

Maybe the legal representation needs to be farmed out.

About the Author

Karie Dozer is host of Arizona's Noon News.

She has been an on-air personality nearly continually since her college days. She loves radio because it is intelligent, immediate and almost always available.

She is the youngest of nine children from a Midwestern Catholic family where she learned to be heard, fight for a place at the table and find humor in almost everything. She was hired as a news intern while a senior at ASU's Cronkite School, and found that covering human stories like the OJ Simpson white Bronco chase and the 1992-93 Phoenix Suns was too much fun to pass up.

She loved life in the newsroom with all the action and crazy personalities to go with it. She anchored and covered some sports too, until politics dragged her away. She served as press secretary for Arizona's Attorney General Grant Woods for a five-year stint before jumping back to radio on a part-time basis. Three years ago she got back in the biz on a more regular basis as a midday host on what is now KTAR News. She has a passion for the breaking news of the moment, education, local politics, great food, sports and fitness. She has trouble turning down a good argument, a good book or a good glass of wine.

In her spare time she takes care of her boys, (husband Rich, son Jack, and yellow lab Buddy,) and bakes awesome chocolate chip cookies. She enjoys the quality of life the Valley offers her family and the natural beauty of Arizona. Her favorite places are golf courses, her own kitchen, the city of Flagstaff, and wherever her family is.

She considers herself lucky to work with the amazingly talented people of KTAR radio.


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