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Updated Mar 27, 2014 - 6:00 pm

Child advocacy groups call for more funding

PHOENIX - A budget making its way through the state legislature has some child advocacy groups concerned.

The state Senate passed a budget proposal last week that continues the $80 million in funding cuts to child care services that were set in place in 2009.

Dana Wolfe Naimark, president and CEO of Children's Action Alliance, said since November -- when the Arizona's Child Protective Services announced that 6,500 reports of child abuse had been overlooked -- there has been a lot of talk about the state's dysfunctional child care system but more needs to be done.

"We've heard a lot of talk since then about child safety, we've heard a lot of announcements about what will be fixed and what will be changed," Naimark said. "Now is the time for action."

Naimark said child care in Arizona is in a crisis and that there is a current backlog of more than 11,000 cases that have not been handled in two months or more.

"Our foster care population has grown 49 percent in the last five years," she added. "We have more than 15,500 children living in foster care. They would fill every single seat in Arizona's Veteran Memorial Coliseum with more standing and sitting in the aisles… (that's) unacceptable."

She also said the time it takes for CPS to complete an investigation has quadrupled in the last five years.

Naimark and representatives from Southwest Human Development, a nonprofit organization specializing in early childhood development, met in the State Capitol Museum to call for the legislation to add at least an additional $10 million in the budget to child care services.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that the Arizona House is nearing a budget deal that has "a small increase in child welfare spending."

About the Author

A southern California native, Mark Remillard began working in radio in 2010 while in community college as a host of late night and weekend programming for publicly supported 88.5 FM KSBR. While working through college, Mark also interned for the Bill Handel Radio Program at Los Angeles' KFI AM640, where he began his work in journalism. Mark moved to Arizona in August 2012 to finish his bachelor's degree at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and graduated in August 2014. Mark began working as a reporter for KTAR in November 2012.


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