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Arizona's Noon News & Karie Dozer

Fired Arizona CPS workers: We were scapegoats

PHOENIX -- A group of five former employees of Arizona's embattled child welfare system said they are nothing but scapegoats.

"They had to have someone to blame and we were the easiest ones," Jana Leineweber, a former assistant manager at Child Protective Services, told News/Talk 92.3 KTAR's Rob & Karie on Friday.

Much has been made of the "not investigated" designation given to 6,500 reports of child abuse. Leineweber said that was a large reason she and four other women were used as scapegoats when the news went public.

"We did the bulk of the review and the triaging of those cases that weren't assigned," she said, adding that the group was responsible for processing 6,500 cases of the more than 140,000 received between 2009 and 2013.

The fact the cases had not been reviewed was not a secret to anyone, the women said.

"There's nothing that any one of the five us did was done in secret," Tracey Everitt, a program manager, said. "We sent out weekly reports to supervisors, managers at the administration, community members, juvenile court judges. Everyone knew we were undertaking this review process."

The women were also several of more than 14 pages worth of names that sifted through the reports.

"We don't believe that what we were doing was wrong," Everitt said. "We don't believe it was the ideal. We've said over and over again that the ideal would be to knock on every single door but the concern was that wasn't happening and you had reports not being looked at by anyone.

"We feel we did nothing wrong because we had to make those decisions based on the circumstances."

But what if the cases that Everitt and the others processed weren't of the highest concern?

"We only reviewed reports that were the low-priority reports," said Everitt. "They were reports that contained concerns of risk or potential risk -- not safety concerns -- regarding the children."

Everitt said the low-priority cases included things like a dirty home, bruises and children who were late for school. Unlike high-priority cases, these generally did not require a police visit.

The fact the cases had not been reviewed was not a secret to anyone, the women said.

"There's nothing that any one of the five us did was done in secret," "We sent out weekly reports to supervisors, managers at the administration, community members, juvenile court judges. Everyone knew we were undertaking this review process."

The women are contemplating a lawsuit for wrongful termination. They all said they would like to work and reach retirement.

"The outpouring of support from people that are still in the agency has been phenomenal," Michelle Parker, a former program manager.

All of the women said they could not work under the revamped child welfare administration.

About the Author


Rob & Karie is a fast-paced show built around conversations on current events and the biggest news stories of the day. It features local and national news stories, political issues, pop culture and entertainment along with regular interviews with newsmakers.

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