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AZ Kids to Lawmakers: Stop Cutting Child Protective Services

April 10, 2009

Phoenix, AZ – Young children carrying buckets full of mail have delivered thousands of letters to Arizona lawmakers, asking them to reject further budget cuts for Child Protective Services(CPS). In a State Capitol demonstration organized by the Service Employees International Union, the children's message to legislators is: "Keep Kids Safe."

Fernanda Duarte is a nine-year-old from Anthem.

"It's time for the Governor, the legislators and everyone else to start listening to us, because kids need to be happy and safe. Please take these letters and tell everyone that kids need someone to look after them."

Earlier this year, lawmakers approved budget cuts that resulted in layoffs of more than 150 case workers at CPS. There are media reports that caseloads have become so large that some abuse and neglect complaints can't be investigated.

CPS case aide Victor Lopez says the budget cuts put children in danger.

"Some priority-one cases could result in death or injury. If the services for CPS are cut further, we may not have the staff to respond to these cases. Are we prepared to see children die because we cut the budget?"

Lopez says the most serious abuse and neglect cases are being investigated as the law requires. But he says there are too many cases to respond to them all.

"We come to work every day. We want to do the best job possible. We need adequate staffing and sufficient funding to accomplish these services to the most vulnerable of our citizens, which are our children."

In the coming year, the lawmakers will have to deal with a deficit nearly twice as large as this year's. They are facing similar calls to protect funding in such other areas as education, public safety, transportation and health care.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ