State Legislators Updated On Department Of Child Safety Performance

By Carrie Jung
Published: Tuesday, November 11, 2014 - 5:05am

Members of the state legislature received an update Monday on how the new Department of Child Safety is performing. DCS officials say their staff is on track to reduce a 13,000 case backlog by January.

The statistics were discussed with several others Monday as part of a joint hearing with Arizona House and Senate committee members.

While the department has shown some signs of improvement in areas, such as case backlog, DCS still needs to work on issues like improving its process for foster home recruitment and creating specific contractor performance standards.

"The department’s contracts were not adequately designed to incentivize performance," said Jeremy Weber, a spokesman with Arizona's Office of the Auditor General. "In addition, the incentive structure did not include any potential sanctions, such as financial sanctions or contract termination." 

Eric Jorgenson is DCS’s deputy director. During the hearing, he faced questions on plans to improve systematic problems that had existed in the now dissolved Child Protective Services. Jorgensen is about seven months into this position. While he couldn’t detail specifics on many plans, he assured committee members that positive changes were being made.

"We’re really looking at building those institutional changes and to make sure that that’s simply the way we do business and there’s not an easy way to undo the improvements that we’ve made," Jorgensen said. 

DCS is one of the state’s newest departments. It was created in May after the discovery that thousands of child abuse and neglect cases were being mishandled.  

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