Brewer abolishes CPS, creates new child safety division - CBS 5 - KPHO

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Brewer abolishes CPS, creates new child safety division

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Gov. Jan Brewer addressing lawmakers in State of the State. (Source: CBS 5 News) Gov. Jan Brewer addressing lawmakers in State of the State. (Source: CBS 5 News)
Brewer protestors gather outside the State Senate building. (Source: Christina Batson, cbs5az.com) Brewer protestors gather outside the State Senate building. (Source: Christina Batson, cbs5az.com)
State of the State (Source: CBS 5 News) State of the State (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5/AP) -

Gov. Jan Brewer is abolishing Child Protection Services and creating a new, stand-alone cabinet agency to oversee child welfare.

The governor used her State of the State address Monday to announce she was ending the agency's oversight by the Department of Economic Security by executive order.

She said the Division of Children, Youth and Families is abolished and the Division of Child Safety and Family Services is established.

She named the head of that team, Juvenile Corrections Director Charles Flanagan, to run the new agency. Flanagan will report directly to the governor.

[Read the full Executive Order (PDF)]

The move comes after revelations in November that CPS failed to investigate thousands of reports of abuse and neglect. Brewer said she's had enough of the "excuses" at CPS.

"We must create a separate agency that focuses on the safety of children. Child safety must be a priority and embedded in this new agency."

Brewer said, "It is evident that our child welfare system is broken, impeded by years of structural and operational failures. It breaks my heart and makes me angry."

The Republican governor is praising a special team she created to investigate the problems and said Monday that more than 3,000 children have now been seen by social workers or police.

[Read her address in its entirety (PDF)]

Brewer began her address by asking the Legislature to pause for a moment of silence in memory of the 19 firefighters who died in the Yarnell Hill Fire in June.

"That June day will be forever etched in our hearts," she said.

She said she is proud the progress the state has made over the past five years.

The governor said there "is no doubt that Arizona is back on track." The state's employers have created nearly 175,000 new jobs with $4.3 billion in new capital investment, she noted.

Brewer called on lawmakers to pass legislation making it easier for police and prosecutors to target human traffickers.

"To all the victims of human trafficking, we have not forgotten you," she said. "Don't give up. Help is on the way. To the criminal traffickers, your days are numbered."

Young women being forced into the sex trade is akin to modern-day slavery, Brewer said.

The governor said a human trafficking task force she created last year has recommended ways to better protect victims and increase penalties for perpetrators.

The task force is co-chaired by Cindy McCain, the wife of Sen. John McCain. Cindy McCain revealed a series of digital billboards Monday designed to combat human trafficking and promote a victim's hotline.

Brewer wants the Legislature to pass a funding plan for Arizona schools that includes more cash for schools that perform above standards.

The governor said that her plan will reward improved student performance and give incentives for success. She floated a similar proposal last year but it gained little traction in the Legislature.

Brewer also has called for the state's three public universities to adopt a tuition plan that assures that students' costs don't increase during the four years it should take for them to earn a degree.

The governor noted three in five Arizona jobs will require a college degree by 2018 and the state needs to boost its education system to ensure new workers have the skills they need.

She also called on the Legislature to approve a package to further boost Arizona's competitiveness, especially in tech and manufacturing.

"For Arizona to remain competitive, we cannot ignore transportation, water and other infrastructure," she added.

Brewer is in the final year of her first full term in office. But because she served part of another term after former Gov. Janet Napolitano took a Cabinet post in the Obama administration in 2009, she's in her second term and can't run for a third unless she fights a legal battle.

She's declined to say if she plans to try to run again.

She concluded her address by saying, "Ten years from now - whether I run again or not - I will be working in my garden, and will look back with pride.

"And if I can borrow a sentiment from Ronald Reagan, I will be uplifted knowing we weren't just marking time. We made a difference. We made this great state stronger; we made it freer; and we left her in good hands."

Stay with cbs5az.com and CBS 5 News for updates on this developing story.

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Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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