Secrets won’t protect children

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(Photo: Michael Schennum / The Republic)

The public's right to know is more than some noisy neighbor's curiosity.

When it comes to child safety, the level of openness can determine whether a child protection agency gets the scrutiny it needs to improve or simply uses secrecy to hide its mistakes.

Arizona's failed former child welfare agency was stealth-prone.

The agency that replaced it last year, the Department of Child Safety, was born amid promises to be more transparent.

Lawmakers, supported by Gov. Doug Ducey, are moving in the right direction.

But there are troubling shadows of secrecy.

For example, Ducey's office is refusing to release a whistle-blower complaint made against Greg McKay, who is now the department's director. It was made by the department's general counsel, Allister Adel, when McKay led the agency's Office of Child Welfare Investigations.

INTERVIEW: Child-safety director shakes up agency

In response to a Feb. 20 public-records request from The Arizona Republic, Ducey's office claimed attorney-client privilege, saying the memo from Adel was covered under attorney-client privilege and was not subject to disclosure, according to a statement to The Republic from Ducey's spokesman, Daniel Scarpinato.

Openness would be a better approach.

There were tensions last month when Ducey fired Charles Flanagan as the department's chief and put McKay in the job. A lengthy memo from McKay criticizing Flanagan's handling of backlogged cases preceded the change. Under Flanagan, the department's internal-investigations unit had investigated McKay and other employees.

When McKay took over, he eliminated the internal-investigations unit.

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We Need Prop 122 to reform CPS / DCS

kl1bzn60_400x400[1]You've seen the headlines: Children abused. Children neglected. Children killed by their own parents. CPS, the agency charged with protecting abused kids, often fails to investigate..

But when the media, lawmakers or even ordinary Arizona citizens demand answers, CPS stonewalls and refuses to tell what really happened.

That's right, they won't answer questions and they refuse to respond to public records requests as required by Arizona law.

How can they get away with that?

The lawyers for CPS say that federal law prevents them from releasing this information. That's right, a federal law originally designed to protect kids is actually being used to protect the wrongdoing of bureaucrats instead.

Prop 122 can change that. Prop 122 forces Child Protective Services to be more transparent when children are harmed. Bureaucrats would be forced to give up documents that could shed light on where they made mistakes and more importantly give us insight into how we can prevent children from dying in the future.

Click here for more information on why we need Prop 122 to reform CPS.