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CPS needs outside eyes to help develop reforms

CPS needs outside eyes to help develop reforms Our View: Andy Biggs' bill should win quick approval By Editorial board The Republic | Mon Feb 17, 2014 7:32 PM

CPS investigation uncovers massively broken system. Senate President Andy Biggs is pushing a bill to bring in outside experts to review Arizona’s child-welfare system. It’s a good idea that won unanimous approval from the Senate Health and Human Services Committee last week. Today, it should pass the Senate Appropriations Committee.

It makes sense to spend $250,000 on a fresh look at the long-troubled agency that is now called the Division of Child Safety and Family Services. National experts who specialize in this field can compare what Arizona is doing to best practices from around the country.

To succeed, they must be carefully chosen to be agenda-free, and their work should complement, not delay, what the state is doing.

Gov. Jan Brewer has a group drafting legislation to formalize her administrative move to split child welfare from the behemoth Department of Economic Security. There is also a legislative committee working on child welfare. What Biggs proposes does not duplicate or complicate those efforts.

Legislation to create a new agency can move ahead. It should be a flexible framework, and not lock in specific policies or procedures. The legislative committee should continue to provide oversight and expertise from an Arizona perspective.

A qualified group of outside experts has the advantage of being unencumbered by preconceptions or pet ideas about what needs to be done. It will not be beholden to the current failed system, the stakeholders or political players.

This kind of independent scrutiny and national expertise can help Arizona achieve meaningful reform.

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