This past spring when Governor Brewer signed in to law the abolishment of the old CPS and created the new Department of Child Safety, there was a promise of increased transparency and more involvement from the community in developing the new agency. One could argue that the development of the laws had all the input of a mushroom farm … folks tucked away high in the Executive Building talking to themselves. We accepted that they would get enough input to make the right decisions on the promise that as they started work, the overall community and specifically, foster and adoptive parents, would be involved in how the new agency operated.
So here we are in the midst of election time. Our politicians are spending time telling their constituents about how terrible their opponents are and why they can govern better than another and all the while, someone is hiring, staffing and putting in new processes for the Department of Child Safety. But who is watching their work? Who is ensuring that this work is driving meaningful change and not just pushing the rock along the road?
The previously established CPS Oversight Committee has not met since the lawmakers met to create this new law. There has not been another Town Hall since the process begun. The one caveat is that I have seen or heard of the new Director, Charles Flanagan, attending some meetings with foster and adoptive parents.
So at the end of the day, where is this promised transparency?
When I think of “transparency” I think of words like; clarity, clearness, openness, accountability and candor.
No matter your political persuasion, have you heard any of these types of things from the new Department of Child Safety? What has changed? What will change? What will not change? What assurances do any tax paying Arizonans have that the added funding that has been allocated to this new department will generate a return on that investment?
Taking care of our most vulnerable children is too important to wait and wait and hope that something is going to change. We must demand change and we need to see what the path to creating that change will be.
This is important work. It’s too important to allow the Dog Days of Summer get in the way of communicating what has been learned, what progress has been made and some indication of what steps will be taken in the next 60, 90, 120 and 365 days to re-make our child welfare system.
All I am asking for is the transparency that was promised. Simple communication will go a long way. Articulating a solid plan will go even further!
Your politicians want your vote in the coming weeks. Tell them you want transparency for the new Department of Child Safety in return. It’s only fair!