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Lawmakers To Review Child Welfare Agency Budget

Lawmakers are scheduled to consider how much money to direct to Arizona’s child welfare system at a budget hearing Tuesday. The Department of Child Safety is dealing with growing numbers of kids in out-of-home care. The agency reported in December there were 18,912 children living in shelters, group or foster homes and with extended family. 

Governor Doug Ducey’s budget proposal, released last month, suggests an increase of nearly $78 million in funding for child safety next fiscal year. That figure includes money from the state’s general fund as well as other sources. 

John Kavanagh serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee. He said he wants additional funding to be tied to predefined measurable objective performance standards. 

State budget analysts also suggested lawmakers watch for money transfers inside the Department of Child Safety. According to Joint Legislative Budget Committee, agencies are allowed to shift money between line items without legislative review. A JLBC  reportsaid, “Due to the scale and number of the transfers DCS has made between its line items, the JLBC staff has concerns that DCS may not be allocating resources in a manner consistent with legislative intent.” 

That’s referring to a transfer last fiscal year of $12 million from preventive social services for families where the kids stay at home to support services for cases where children have been removed from their homes.  

Alexandra Olgin was a Senior Field Correspondent at KJZZ from 2013 to 2016.