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Arizona child welfare overhaul signed into law

PHOENIX -- Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law an overhaul of Arizona's embattled child welfare agency Thursday.

Bills creating a new child welfare agency called the Department of Child Safety and giving the agency an extra $60 million passed unanimously in the morning.

The bills were backed by Brewer, who was present in the House for the vote.

The Senate first stripped extra cash tacked on a day earlier over concerns the House would not pass the bill.

Brewer proposed the overhaul after revelations late last year that more than 6,500 abuse and neglect reports were closed without investigation.

Brewer called lawmakers into a special session to enact the overhaul. The department will have $827 million in total funding.

Brewer originally said she would call the session in late April after at least five child welfare supervisors were fired following a four-month investigation.

In a statement, Brewer said the safety of Arizona children is one of her most important priorities and an issue that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. A report from the Arizona Department of Public Safety increased the urgency even more.

The five workers who were fired are mulling a lawsuit. The group told News/Talk 92.3 KTAR's Rob & Karie they were nothing more than scapegoats.

KTAR's Bob McClay and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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