FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, January 4, 2024
Auditor General Report Highlights DCS Failures, Sunset Review Committee Members Believe More Options Were Available
PHOENIX, ARIZONA— Senator Justine Wadsack (R-17) and Representative Barbara Parker (R-10) are expressing their disappointment in the outcome of the Sunset Review of the Arizona Department of Child Safety during Wednesday’s hearing of the Senate and House Health & Human Services Committees of Reference.
The legislature has the obligation to reign in agencies which are found not to be in compliance of state law. The House and Senate are also required to periodically review state agencies and may take one of four actions: 1) continuation, 2) revision, 3) consolidation, or 4) termination. This review process typically occurs every 8-10 years, but Wednesday, the Committee voted to continue DCS for four years. Senator Wadsack and Representative Parker voted against the motion because it did not offer alternative solutions for more oversight.
“DCS has failed the last four special audits conducted by the Auditor General,” said Senator Wadsack. “This $1.2 billion agency is not following state law nor national standards. There are cases of child abuse, neglect, rape, trafficking, and even death within the agency, yet there’s no recourse for a parent if they suspect neglect or abuse of their child by a DCS employee. We’ve had crimes committed, but there have been zero consequences or accountability at the agency. How could I vote to allow this dysfunction to continue?”
“In the past few weeks, five children from foster homes in my legislative district alone went missing,” said Representative Parker. “One was found dead, and two others were found trafficked. You can’t trust an agency to make changes when children’s lives and well-being are at risk, you revise it. The legislature has broad powers to revise or correct agencies and has the duty to provide checks and balances to the executive branch. These hearings allow for several options of reform for an agency that’s failing to live up to its legal statutory responsibilities, and I believe we could have done more with that.”
“Furthermore, because of Governor Hobbs’ refusal to follow the law and submit state agency director nominations for Senate confirmation, any policies created by CEO David Lujan could be legally challenged,” said Representative Parker. “Hobbs doesn’t even have an agency that’s properly functioning, and this gives me grave concerns.”
Senator Wadsack and Representative Parker are encouraged by Senator Shope and Representative Montenegro’s efforts to increase oversight and accountability as chairmen of the Health and Human Services Committees, and vow to join them in working on legislation to address the heartbreaking issues within the Department of Child Safety.