PHOENIX (Wednesday, December 02, 2015) – Department of Child Safety (DCS) Director Greg McKay today released data showing improvement in several crucial areas.
Child welfare has been, and will continue to be a high volume, high risk industry. Arizona's Department of Child Safety (formerly Child Protective Services) has continuously suffered the effect of demands outpacing capacity. The outcome of this has been massive backlogs of inactive cases, high employee turnover, and children and families stuck in the system too long.
"Volume is everything in this field," said DCS Director Greg McKay. "Only when incoming demands are outpaced by productivity, the tide will turn."
When it comes to some demands on DCS, it appears the tide is turning. In the last twelve months, the child abuse hotline received 135,709 calls. Of those, over 52,000 required an investigation. 100% of those reports were assigned to investigators. To report abuse or neglect callers waited on average 45 seconds before reaching a hotline specialist. Call wait times in the past exceeded one hour resulting in over 30% of callers hanging up and not reporting the allegation of abuse or neglect.
McKay continued, "The remarkable work and efficiency of DCS staff at the hotline resulted in a necessary cost; more reports of kids needing help, meaning more demands."
But DCS has kept up and made gains for the first time in years. Since McKay's team took the helm last February, the amount of completed cases outpaced new incoming cases most months. Data measured comparing August through November of 2014, to August through November of 2015, shows remarkable progress. DCS of 2014 took in 17,197 reports and completed only 12,609; leaving a negative of -4,588. Net negative equals backlogged cases. DCS of 2015 however, took in 16,557 reports and completed 18,445; leaving a positive of 1,888. This shows a 141.2% increase in production in 2015, with less staff.
"We have attacked this problem head on and are now seeing monumental results," said McKay. "When we can outrun incoming demands, it leaves time to finish old work that continues to haunt our dedicated staff."
Regarding old work, the inactive backlog of cases began trending downward in February, 2015. In fact, the backlog of inactive cases dropped roughly 10%, instead of continuing to climb.
Additional DCS accomplishments within the last twelve months are also significant. DCS staff safely reunified 5,400 children with their birth parents, and got 3,000 children adopted into forever homes.
"These accomplishments are only the measurable ones," said McKay. "The greatest victories attained by the men and women of this organization will never be known. Those are the thousands of times DCS intervention leads to no future involvement and children thrive. These we will humbly celebrate silently."