Over the last few years, Arizona has prioritized providing safe, permanent homes for Arizona foster children. Through operational efficiencies, policy reform and legislative successes, the child-welfare program is continuously improving to best serve Arizona’s most vulnerable children.
In his 2018 State of the State address, Governor Ducey highlighted the success of Arizona’s Department of Child Safety (DCS):
“...Just two years ago, the problems at the state’s new Child Safety department seemed insurmountable. But because of the committed service of our state’s child safety workers, non-profit organizations and the faith-based community, combined with legislative support – the Casey Family Programs just named Arizona the best in the country for its foster care reduction.”
Most recently, during the 2018 legislative session Governor Ducey signed SB 1473, requiring our courts move faster to place infants exposed to drug or illegal substances in permanent homes. This bill continues our efforts to provide every child in Arizona the opportunity to thrive in a safe, permanent home, creating an environment free from abuse or neglect.
The bill ensures DCS maintains a goal to place infants exposed to drug or illegal substances into prospective permanent placement within 1 year. For a child under three who has lived with a foster parent or kinship caregiver for at least nine months, SB 1473 provides these caregivers with increased consideration for permanent placement.
Placing infants and toddlers in a permanent, loving home is critical for childhood development. Whether in a successful reunification, a kinship home, or a prospective adoptive home, SB 1473 expedites the process, encouraging essential bonds and investing in the future of Arizona’s most vulnerable children.
Arizona Republic: Governor Ducey Protects Babies “Born Exposed To Drugs.”
“Babies who are born exposed to drugs and whose parents have chronic substance-abuse problems could be put up for adoption by their first birthday, under a bill Gov. Doug Ducey signed Thursday.” (Mary Jo Pitzl, “Ducey Signs Bill To Cut Off Parents' Rights To Drug-Exposed Babies After One Year,” Arizona Republic, 04/06/18)
This legislation is the latest in a series of positive reforms DCS has made over the last few years, including:
- Reducing the foster care population in Arizona by 24%, compared to a national average which has seen a 4% increase;
- Use of emergency shelter care reduced by 65%;
- Expansion of Kinship stipend by 270% so that families have additional support.
Arizona will continue to prioritize protecting the future of the state’s most vulnerable populations.