Hey Politicians … Be Sure to Get This One Right!!

As you may have heard, Governor Brewer has called legislators back in to special session this week to work on the establishment of the “new” CPS. I think we can all agree that this is an important time for children in Arizona as they talk about starting anew in how we care for these most vulnerable children.

However, I think it is important to remind these folks involved in this process that it is not just about money. Of course, they are politicians so this is what they will fight about and this is what we will hear about. But as a foster parent I know that it is as much about rebuilding the process that they use to help these children as it is to fund what it takes to be successful.

Here’s my take. It has finally come to the attention of the “powers that be” that CPS is broken. Of course, those of us who operate within the system have known this for years. So if they think that throwing more money at the problem and then patting themselves on the back is all it takes, shame on them.

I have turned around businesses as a career. One thing that I have learned is that it is never just about money.   Oh, money helps and it will be needed. But the real answer is that the process must change. CPS has historically gone about their business without consistency, without a focus, and most important, worried about CYA and not necessarily is what is in the best interest of the child(ren) they are supporting.

Hey politicians … that has got to change! Write your laws and rules so that the new leadership has specific goals and outcomes that you want them to accomplish and then ask for regular reporting on how they make progress against that. Just use the basic metrics: 1. Length of time in care; 2. Ability to have basic healthcare, mental health care and education needs met every month not just when it is convenient to case workers; 3. Ability to keep families together rather than taking them away.   I could go on and on, but if you hold them accountable to these it will improve!

It’s high time we change how CPS does business. Period.

I have great faith in Charles Flanagan as the new Director. His recent letter to agencies and his staff on how to treat foster families and how to help them help the kids they invite in to their home was outstanding (if you have not seen this and would like a copy, email me). I also believe that Director Flanagan’s heart is in the right place. But eventually he will be engulfed in the myriad of CPS’ issues and will struggle to see the forest through the trees of this massive bureaucracy.

The only way to avoid falling backwards is by dramatically changing the process on how they do things and measure them every month on the progress they make. The only folks that can help them do this are the ones that work in the system on behalf of the kids … you and me … every foster parent, adoptive parent, caregiver and family that gets impacted with the lack of progress in our great state.

Support the efforts to increase funding. But PLEASE don’t let it stop there. We must stick together and demand they overhaul their process and how they operate.

May is Foster Care Awareness Month. There is no place in the entire US that it is more important that we make lawmakers aware of the need for changes than right here in Arizona. Please let your voice be heard … share this blog, write notes to friends, lawmakers and relatives, write Facebook posts and Tweet. It’s time for change. Let’s hold them accountable to make it broad sweeping!

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