New CPS agency not independent yet - CBS 5 - KPHO

New CPS agency not independent yet

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The new agency the governor created to protect Arizona's most vulnerable children is still under the umbrella of the state's Department of Economic Security.

Gov. Jan Brewer announced last week that she had signed an executive order to abolish the troubled Child Protective Services in order to create the Division of Child Safety and family Services (DCSFS).

News reports indicated that DCSFS would be its own independent agency; however, CBS5 has learned that hasn't happened yet.

Legal experts had raised questions about whether Brewer had the legal right to create a new CPS that was separate from DES.

Valley attorney Anthony Ching said, "To take CPS away from DES and make it a separate entity exceeds the governor's constitutional power."

Arizona law clearly states that DES has the sole authority to oversee issues of child welfare.

Any changes to the law must come with the approval of the state legislature.

Brewer spokesman Andrew Wilder told CBS5 that Brewer never violated the state constitution.

"The executive order upholds her duties as governor and is legally sound," said Wilder. "The governor has not created or ignored applicable law but acted as a chief executive officer."

Wilder said that the new agency the governor created, DCSFS, is still a part of DES and can only become its own agency with the legislature's approval.

"The Division of Child Safety and Family Services is a division of the Department of Economic Security," said Wilder. "The new DCSFS director is a DES employee. The statutory legal authority remains the same."

Lawmakers will consider the governor's request to make the DCSFS independent of DES during the current legislative session.

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