CPS Changes: New director talks about major overhaul - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

CPS Changes: New director talks about major overhaul

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Charles Flanagan Charles Flanagan

During her State of the State address, Governor Jan Brewer announced Arizona's Child Protective Services will be abolished after the agency failed to investigate thousands of child abuse cases.

She announced a major re-organization is now underway and a new cabinet member will answer directly to her.

The new director talked to me about how he plans to turn things around.

"Quite frankly, it was a masterstroke," said Charles Flanagan, who describes the Governor's move to partially separate CPS from the massive Department of Economic Security.

"CPS is just one minute portion and yet it is one of the driving forces behind public concern and outcry," he said.

Since 2011, Flanagan has led the Department of Juvenile Corrections.  At times, in that job, he worked with CPS.

"I'll be frank.  We were not happy with the level of support or the level of access we have or that these children were getting the best services that they needed and there was not an openness and willingness to discuss those issues."

But Flanagan is quick to defend CPS' overworked staff who he says have nearly double the amount of workload compared to other states.

"We are in essence running them off by overworking them and not giving them the support that they need, the technology that they need."

For a little more than a month, Flanagan has been leading the team the Governor set up to look into thousands of uninvestigated calls to the CPS hotline.

"What we saw here was unconscionable.  It doesn't even make sense.. to not report these cases.. makes no sense," he said.

Flanagan says he now has a deeper understanding of what needs to change at CPS.  One priority will be transparency.

"The only way to be held accountable is to report information.. is to give information about what you are doing and what the outcomes are so that you can be challenged on it.  There should never be an environment  like this one to allow for these kinds of decisions to be made in secret."

To accomplish many of these goals, it will likely require an increase in funding.  Flanagan says he has a good relationship with the Legislature, and given the seriousness of the situation at the CPS, he believes legislators will listen.

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