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Arizona Attorney General: DCS Can Interview Children Without Parental Consent

Attorney General Mark Brnovich says child welfare workers can interview children without the consent of their parents.

The issue stems from a woman's complaints that the Department of Child Safety took her children out of school without her consent while investigating a report involving her brother's children. The woman's kids were living in the same home as her brother.

The case was not classified as abuse but under the lesser offense of neglect. Based on that, the state ombudsman said Arizona law required DCS to get the mother's permission to conduct interviews.

But in a formal legal opinion Monday, Brnovich sided with DCS Director Greg McKay and said the ombudsman's findings were erroneous, based on "hypertechnical textual analysis."

Senate President Andy Biggs, who has been critical of some of the procedures used by DCS, said he is concerned about the new opinion. He said it gives too much authority to the agency.

"If you have probable cause to believe there's some kind of criminality, then I understand interviewing the child outside the presence of a parent. But that's kind of where you draw the line," Biggs said.

Biggs said he wants to study Brnovich's opinion further before deciding whether changes are needed in the law.