Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said she has formed a special 10-person child care advocacy team to oversee the investigation of more than 6,000 cases of child abuse designated as "not investigated."
The "CARE Team" is charged with providing oversight for the investigations of cases that were designated as "NI" by Arizona Child Protective Services, the governor said at a news conference Monday.
Charles Flanagan, Director of the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections, will chair the team.
Other members include Arizona State Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor; Arizona State Rep. Kate Brophy McGee; Robert Bell, Children's Justice Coordinator at the Childhelp Children's Center of Arizona; Cindi Nannetti, a veteran prosecutor with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office; Deb Gullett, child advocate and former legislator; Greg McKay, Chief of the Office of Child Welfare Investigations (OCWI); Jan Strauss, a former Mesa Police Chief; and a yet-to-be-identified CPS representative.
The team also will examine the CPS system to identify areas of concern and will include consideration of personnel, operations, processes and policies.
The team's findings will be submitted to Brewer, her office said.
The creation of the team came in response to the recent revelation that the thousands of child abuse complaints were not investigated by the Child Protective Services from 2009 until November.
Public outrage has grown since it was revealed Nov. 21 that the cases were not investigated by CPS.
Brewer defended CPS caseworkers, saying they are "overworked and overburdened" and that it was not their fault the causes weren't investigated. "These cases never made it to their desk," she said.
Department of Economic Security Director Clarence Carter said the chief of the Office of Child Welfare Investigations brought the issue to his attention Nov. 12. DES oversees CPS.
Carter said the more than 6,000 cases were misclassified as not requiring investigations beginning in 2009. The number of cases rapidly escalated since January as caseloads increased as a new hotline process was put in place.
Carter on Nov. 25 released a two-step "action plan" to investigate the outstanding cases.
Phase I recounts the work already done to assess and categorize 2,919 cases from Jan. 1 through November of 2013.
Phase II outlines the review process for the remaining cases from 2009 through January 2013.
The remaining 3,191 reports must be reviewed by Monday, Dec. 2, Carter's plan specified.
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