PHOENIX (Thursday, March 30, 2017) - Representatives from all three branches of government came together for the first meeting on March 21, 2017 to explore what will be needed to fully implement a process for the Department of Child Safety (DCS) to seek court permission prior to removing children from their parents, absent an immediate emergency.
DCS executive leadership and staff, legislative staff members, judges, and court representatives met as part of a multi-day “Kaizen” event, a structured process improvement meeting to recommend change for the good, mindful that “we will accomplish as much as we can while we are together.” Kaizen is based on the following principles: get rid of old assumptions; look for ways to make things happen by saying “no” to the status quo; planning does not cost money; if something is wrong, fix it; good ideas come when the going gets tough; always ask “why” five times to get to the root cause; look for wisdom from the group rather than one; and never stop doing Kaizen.
The changes are being pursued as part of DCS’s safety model renovation to continue to improve the state’s action to both protect children and protect the constitutional rights of families.
The group of eighteen people considered what changes to DCS process, Arizona law, and court rules might be necessary to effectively implement the new process to provide a clear path for DCS to seek court authority when they determine that it is unsafe for children to remain in the home with their parents, but that an immediate emergency does not exist.
As the mechanics of the process are determined, it is anticipated that there will be continued attention to improving the process to ensure: the Department of Child Safety can fulfill its role to act to protect children who are in danger; the court can fulfill its role to provide judicial review for government action and protection of individual and family rights; and, the Legislature can fulfill its role in providing a statutory structure to provide protection to all citizens, both young and old.
An implementation plan will be developed in consultation with stakeholders that will include cross-system engagement and training.