Number Of Arizona Foster Kids Reaches Record High, While Staff Hits Record Low
The Arizona Department of Child Safety website showed more than 19,000 children in state care back in February— an all-time high for Arizona. And, because of turnover, the number of case-carrying staff hit a record low.
But Doug Nick, spokesman for DCS, said that high number has gone down to 18,917 kids in the foster care system currently. And he said staff numbers are increasing due to training programs.
“We’re definitely seeing the fruits of our training of staff bear fruit because we have more caseworkers on a case-carrying status, and those that are in training will soon be in case-carrying status, so we are starting to see that trend actually move upward,” Nick said.
Nick said DCS now has 960 case-carrying staff with 260 more in training. This is up from the last-reported numbers but still below last year’s peak of 1,096 case-carrying staff members, according to Children’s Action Alliance.
Children’s Action Alliance President and CEO Dana Wolfe Naimark said Arizona is not being proactive to reduce the number of kids in foster care or to ease the caseloads of workers.
“In most states, they are finding very effective ways to reduce the need for foster care and to help families safely stay together and keep children out of homes,” Wolfe Naimark said.
Nick said since October, they’ve been running a program in Maricopa County called “Building Resilient Families” that helps families stay together and keep kids out of foster homes. Wolfe Naimark says she has yet to see success.
KJZZ's Matthew Casey contributed to this report.