DCS is committed to protecting Arizona’s children and pursuing permanency on their behalf. That commitment includes providing services to parents, family members, guardians or custodians in an attempt to strengthen the family pursuant to Arizona law. While providing those services and pursuing safety for children, Arizona law dictates that certain information remain confidential in order to protect the identity of children in our care. DCS confidentiality policies reflect state statutes and are intended to guide our employees whenever they work with families or handle confidential information.
With those statements in mind, the Department of Child Safety is issuing this release in response to a recent Arizona Republic article that insinuates DCS deliberately restricted parents from exercising their First Amendment rights. While it is impossible to address the unverified allegations at issue because we have yet to ascertain whether the case exists, such curtailments of anyone’s First Amendment rights are neither supported by DCS nor condoned by its leadership.
The story was written despite the author’s admission that the newspaper has not “independently verified the authenticity of the document[.]” It is unfortunate that the Arizona Republic would publish such an incendiary article based on unverified information. Moreover, and more importantly, it is unfortunate that the Arizona Republic refused to share the name of the alleged case with us so we could verify its existence and rectify any parental concerns, if warranted.
Due to the Arizona Republic's steadfast refusal to share the document at issue in its entirety, we are unfortunately unable to verify if it even exists. In an effort to identify the case, however, we have made inquiries with our counsel at the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and with DCS field leadership, who supervise approximately 1,400 Case Workers who in turn handle over 15,000 children in active dependency cases. As of the date of this release, we have been unable to verify whether the case at issue exists.
If indeed the alleged restrictions were given to parents involved in a DCS case, those directives are not reflective of DCS confidentiality policies, which are in line with Arizona Revised Statute § 8-807 (confidentiality of DCS information).
We urge the Arizona Republic to disclose the name of the DCS Case Worker involved so we can look into the allegation and take individual corrective action, if warranted.
In the meantime, we have reminded all DCS Case Workers that parents – and most importantly their children – who are involved in dependency cases have a right to confidentiality in all DCS matters and that the assigned trial judge in each case has the power to decide the parameters of the confidentiality restrictions under Arizona law.
 Article dated July 17, 2019, by Dianna M. Nanez, titled, “Did Arizona Department of Child Safety try to bar parents from criticizing it?”