Social Work Association Calls For New Leadership At Arizona DCS

By Alexandra Olgin
Published: Wednesday, January 13, 2016 - 9:35pm
Updated: Friday, January 15, 2016 - 12:04pm
Alexandra Olgin/KJZZ
Arizona Department of Child Safety Director Greg McKay addresses reporters on July 30, 2015.

The Arizona Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers is calling for new leadership at the state’s child welfare system. Greg McKay has been leading the Department of Child Safety for 11 months.

Timothy Schmaltz is the state chapter president of the association. He said DCS needs someone who is professionally qualified to manage a human services agency.

“Mr. McKay is a really good and sincere man. But he doesn’t appear with his team to be up to the challenge of doing this," Schmaltz said. "And that’s based on the data. We are just looking at the growing foster care caseload. The fact that he himself has said that money hasn’t been spent well."  

Caseworker turnover at DCS is currently 35 percent.

In Gov. Doug Ducey’s State of the State speech earlier this week, he said there are 18,927 kids living in foster or group homes, in shelters or with extended family. Ducey’s press secretary, Daniel Scarpinato, said despite those numbers, the governor has confidence in McKay.

“We are making progress when it comes to the newer cases that are coming in. But we still have obviously a huge backlog that has built. So there has been progress but it’s nowhere near what the governor would like to see," Scarpinato said.

In a December press release, the agency reported in 2015 it took in 16,557 cases for investigation and closed 18,445. DCS spokesman Doug Nick said updated figures show about 13,800 inactive cases, down from a peak of more than 16,000 in January 2015.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The story has been updated to reflect the most recent caseworker turnover and inactive case data made available to KJZZ by the Arizona Department of Child Safety.

Updated 1/15/2016 at 12:00 p.m.