Richardson: Not enough people care about fate of Ariz.’s children - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Voices

Richardson: Not enough people care about fate of Ariz.’s children

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Retired Mesa master police officer Bill Richardson lives in the East Valley and can be reached at

Posted: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 12:08 pm

Does anyone even care that 6,000 cases of reported neglect and abuse went un-investigated by Child Protective Services Special Welfare Assessment Team at the Arizona Department of Economic Security?

I don’t think all that many people care.

My expertise told me that because of this failure a number of kids who were being abused and neglected are still being maltreated.

When the report came out last week I figured one of the kids who should’ve been protected would end up dead. On Nov. 23, KPHO news reported one of the kids abused — was reported and went un-investigated — was murdered.

Someone at CPS messed up. So what else is new? CPS has a long history of kids dying and being abused after they got involved.

With the report of this latest failure there are calls to fire current Arizona Department of Economic Security Director Clarence Carter. Carter, a political insider with connections to the last Bush administration and the Republican National Committee, is the latest political lackey to run the underfunded and understaffed agency that’s responsible for the protection of the state’s children.

Gov. Jan Brewer appointed Carter in 2011.

Carter will be dumped when the time is appropriate. In his defense, CPS was a mess when he got to Arizona and unless there is a serious change in Arizona’s attitude towards children, CPS will be a mess long after he’s gone and forgotten. A long list of governors and members of the State Legislature have failed kids who needed CPS to protect them.

There’s decades of not caring for kids and supporting CPS at the State Capitol.

Brewer has ordered an investigation by the Arizona Department of Public Safety into the CPS failure. I’d guess the DPS report will point fingers at the system, name a few people who flubbed and maybe even make an arrest or two, but the report will be just a drop in a giant bucket when it comes to beginning to make Arizona a better place for the kids. The dangers to children go way past the failures of CPS.

Brewer and the Legislature need to remember Arizona’s the home of a serious and growing drug problem, where heroin, meth and other dangerous drugs are plentiful to all. Then there are the street and prison gangs that control the streets and the majority of serious crime.

Gangs are always looking for recruits and Arizona continues to supply the gangs with a near endless supply of soldiers who are willing to carry on a war of crime against law-abiding citizens and businesses. And there’s the growing problem of human trafficking plaguing Arizona’s streets. The buying and selling of flesh is as old as the world, but thanks to the energy and ingenuity of modern day pimps, selling sex in Arizona is another big money maker for gangs and organized crime.

The failures of CPS and the state to take the welfare of children seriously contribute significantly to the drug, gang and sex trade problems that plague Arizona.

Arizona’s decision to build more prison beds and support the growth of the private prison industry might just turn out to be a smart move when you consider the number of kids who are destined to a life of crime because of failed state policies and the grossly inadequate response to child welfare.

Arizonans and politicians have overwhelming supported the expansion and growth of the prison industry but most wouldn’t be willing to spend the same of amount of money on funding CPS in hopes of keeping kids from growing into adult career criminals.

Only a handful of folks care about the kids and failures by CPS. The politicians, with the exception of Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, will care long enough to get re-elected in the upcoming election year. But when it’s all said and done, the only ones who really care will be the ones who keep trying to fix what’s long been broken and will probably stay broken.

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