Arizona system

A place to post and discuss news.

Moderators: family_man, LindaJM

Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Arizona system

Postby Marina » Tue Aug 21, 2007 7:47 pm

. ... ringsoncps

Tucson legislators divided over closing of hearings on CPS

By Daniel Scarpinato , ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Thu Jul 19, 4:41 AM ET

PHOENIX — Closed-door legislative hearings on Child Protective Services are shaping up to be a partisan showdown over whether the agency mishandled two Tucson cases in which children died, or is being made a political scapegoat to embarrass the governor.

After announcing earlier this year that the House Government Committee would investigate two cases, the committee has finally set a date of Aug. 28.

In addition the panel will discuss an incident in which a Tucson caseworker began dating a man whose case she handled.

Another big topic: Whether the agency should be required to make full case files public. So far, it has only released summaries of the two Tucson cases.

State Rep. Jonathan Paton, a Tucson Republican who called for the hearings, says he intends to introduce legislation next year based on the committee findings.

But Democratic Rep. Steve Farley, also a Tucsonan, is skeptical. In an e-mail blast to supporters this week, Farley said he plans to defend CPS caseworkers during the hearings.

Employees "cannot talk about their successes, and they cannot defend themselves against attacks in the media, because the safety of the children they serve depends on their public silence," Farley said in the e-mail.

On March 21, Brandon Williams, 5, died of what an autopsy said was blunt-force trauma. His mother gave him a lethal dose of Tylenol PM pills and other medication.

Earlier that month, Ariana Payne, 4, was found dead in a storage locker. Her brother, 5-year-old Tyler, remains missing. Their father has been charged with killing both children.

In both cases, CPS had been involved in monitoring the families.

More recently, it was learned that CPS supervisor Amy Gile engaged in a romantic relationship with an abusive father of three who had been one of her clients. In June, CPS said Gile no longer worked for the agency.

Farley said in an interview he worries the hearings are being organized to "embarrass the governor," who has authority over CPS.

"My best hope is that the people who are calling these hearings are sincere about wanting to help kids," said Farley, who has done a ride-along with CPS caseworkers and called on Paton to do the same.

Paton said he doesn't disagree entirely with Farley.

"I know there are a lot of CPS workers who are upset with how things are going, and they feel that in many cases that there need to be changes in the law and in the administration of that agency," he said.

Paton said he would like to make the findings of the committee public, as he seeks to force the agency to be more transparent.

"It's a closed form of government," he said. "I believe these hearings need to be opened up, but I can't do that."

Paton added that "confidentiality should end with the death of children. When the children are dead, who are we protecting at this point?"

Farley said any potential problems with the agency are "not something that's going to be solved by revealing everybody publicly." Farley stressed the need for more CPS funding to raise salaries and hire additional staffers.

Napolitano, too, says transparency needs to be balanced with other issues, including federal law.

"Whenever a child dies and there's CPS involvement, we go back and say, 'Is there something CPS could have done or should have done that would have prevented a death?' " she said Wednesday.

But Napolitano said criminal prosecutions should take precedence over cases being made public. So should protecting the privacy of other children in the cases, she said.

"The more we can be transparent, the more I like it, but we don't have carte blanche here," she said.

Related story:

Tucson legislators divided over closing of hearings on CPS

"It's a closed form of government. I believe these hearings need to be opened up, but I can't do that.."

State Rep. Jonathan Paton, R-Tucson




New questions arise on CPS ties to slain children

By Josh Brodesky
arizona daily star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 07.19.2007

Child Protective Services case summaries released Wednesday discussing the agency's involvement with three slain Tucson children raise new questions, in at least one case, about its actions to keep the children safe.

In March 2006, the mother of Ariana and Tyler Payne sought help from police in getting her children back from their father, Christopher Matthew Payne. Police and CPS refused to enforce her court custody order after CPS said the mother, Jamie Hallam, was being investigated for neglect.

When the allegation was proved unsubstantiated in April 2006, CPS did not retrieve the children, and Hallam's family members say they were never notified.

In the case of Brandon Williams, a CPS worker spent a month searching for the autistic boy and his mother, Diane Marsh. But when the worker found the two outside their North Side home in October, she never left her car. She did call the Pima County Sheriff's Department and asked Marsh through her car window to stop.

The release of the case summaries comes roughly four months after records requests by the Arizona Daily Star. A lawsuit to obtain the complete files is pending. CPS declined to release the case summaries after the Pima County Attorney's Office had said the information could hinder its prosecutions and investigations of the cases.

While the case summaries provide some new details about the Williams and Payne cases, they are incomplete. Citing confidentiality laws, CPS spokeswoman Liz Barker Alvarez said she could not, for the most part, provide details outside of the summaries.

An unsubstantiated report
On Feb. 18, police found 4-year-old Ariana's decomposing body in a tub that had first been placed in a storage locker and then in a trash bin.

Despite two searches at the Los Reales Landfill, 5300 E. Los Reales Road, 5-year-old Tyler's remains have not been recovered. The children's father, Christopher Matthew Payne, 29, is charged with killing them.

Following a domestic fight between the parents, Hallam was granted sole custody without visitation rights for Payne in June 2003, court records show.

In October 2005, CPS began investigating a report alleging Tyler and Ariana were neglected. In January 2006, Hallam allowed the children to visit their father, despite the court order.

The case summary shows Payne told the agency he wasn't sure what to do with the children. A CPS worker advised him to petition for custody. At the time, despite a lengthy arrest record, Payne had not been the subject of any abuse allegations involving his kids.
When Hallam sought to get her children back in March of last year, police contacted CPS, and a supervisor told the officers the agency was investigating Hallam and to keep the children with Payne, records show.

One month later, the case was closed and the neglect allegation was unsubstantiated.
Speaking generally, and not specifically about the Payne case, Barker Alvarez said an unsubstantiated allegation doesn't mean a home is safe.

"It is possible that the investigator could find other things or information that have put the children at risk," she said. "An unsubstantiated allegation does not mean that there is not a risk to the child that still needs to be mitigated."

A long search
Diane Marsh and a roommate, Flower Tompson, have been charged with killing Brandon Williams, who died in March as a result of a skull fracture, but who also had a large amount of over-the-counter medication in his system.

CPS first had contact with 5-year-old Brandon in August because of a family assault by Brandon's older brother.
By mid-September, the CPS worker had lost contact with Brandon and Marsh, who had moved to a motel.

Then, in mid-October the worker along with a sheriff's officer visited the home, which was empty and in disarray with furniture overturned and trash and clothing strewn about.
The worker returned to the home the next day and saw Brandon, Marsh and Tompson pull up to the home. Rather than confront them alone, she called the Sheriff's Department and spoke to them from inside her car.

"She pulled up to the driveway and asked them to stop so that she could talk to them. They immediately drove off," the report says. The worker followed but couldn't keep up, the case summary says.
After that, the case summary outlines four more attempts the worker made to find Brandon between October and December.
Rep. Jonathan Paton, a Tucson Republican who is leading legislative hearings about CPS involvement in the cases, said he will push for the hearings to be open — at least in regard to these two cases. He also said he would like the original documents for the cases to be released.

"I just wish that they could rip off the Band-Aid and get it over with so we can know what's going on and address some of the issues," he said.
Dan Barr, who represents the Star, said he doesn't understand why the case summaries were withheld.
"There is no reason this couldn't have been released in March," he said.




CPS releases info on 3 dead children

Tucson Citizen
Corrected version

The state's child welfare agency released information Wednesday about its involvement with three Tucson children whose parents are accused of killing them.
Child Protective Services had denied requests for the information for months.

CPS spokeswoman Liz Barker Alvarez said the Pima County Attorney's office said it no longer believed releasing the information would jeopardize the murder cases of the children's parents, Christopher Payne and Diane Marsh.
The summaries detail how CPS handled allegations of abuse or neglect in the months leading up to the deaths of Ariana, 4, and Tyler Payne, 5; and Brandon Williams, 5, Marsh's son.
Ariana's decomposing remains were found Feb. 18 in a public storage locker. Tyler has not been found and is presumed dead.
Brandon died March 22 at a Tucson hospital of blunt trauma to the head.

According to CPS summaries regarding the Payne children:
● On May 2, 2002, CPS visited Christopher Payne's home after hearing allegations of "low-risk" physical abuse and observed Tyler and his half-sibling. No mention is made of Ariana.
Payne's parents were caring for the children while he worked. The CPS worker had no concerns.
● In October 2005, CPS got a report alleging neglect of Tyler and Ariana by someone other than Payne.
The allegation was unsubstantiated in the investigation.
● On Feb. 14, 2006, Payne called CPS, saying he was concerned that his ex-wife wanted to take the children.
She had full legal and physical custody of them.
CPS advised him to begin a custody proceeding and gave him a telephone number to help him get a lawyer.
CPS told him to contact the child welfare agency if the mother tried to take the children back. Court records show he filed a petition for a custody hearing but no further action was taken.
● On Feb. 15, 2006, CPS advised the children's mother to take the children to her maternal stepfather's home (in Catalina) and seek his help with the children but "she refused."
● CPS closed its case on the Payne children on April 14, 2006. Ten months later, Ariana's body was found.
● On March 1, 2007, CPS arranged for the 2-year-old child Payne fathered with girlfriend Reina Gonzales to be placed in foster care after he was charged with murder.
According to CPS summaries regarding Brandon Williams:
● On Sept. 5, 2006, a CPS investigator interviewed Brandon at school and saw no evidence of neglect or abuse.
● Brandon stopped attending school after Sept. 27, 2006. His mother did not attend a parent-teacher conference on Oct. 6, 2006.
● On Dec. 5, 2006, CPS called Brandon's school and learned he was no longer enrolled. The report does not state when CPS tried to locate the boy. It states the agency lost contact with Marsh and Brandon after "numerous" attempts to locate them at home, school and other places, failed.
A week before he died, a Pima County sheriff's deputy located the boy and his mother an hour after getting a 911 call from his grandfather. The deputy wrote in her report that the boy and his mother seemed well rested and that the boy had large bandages around his legs and feet.
● On March 22, 2007, Brandon's death was reported to the CPS hot line. "Very suspicious injuries" to his body and ligature marks on his neck, wrist and ankles were noted. Marsh was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in his death, along with friend Flower Tompson.

"Brandon was never identified in any CPS report as a victim of abuse by either of his parents," according to the CPS summary.
In a related CPS matter, Rep. Jonathan Paton, R-Tucson, said on Wednesday he filed an affidavit this week with Maricopa County Superior Court seeking details from CPS about the deaths of the three Tucson children.
Legislative hearings on CPS and the secrecy of the state's child welfare laws are set for Aug. 28 in Phoenix.
Paton, who called for the hearings, said he can't provide proper legislative oversight of the agency without access to CPS documents.

. ... ld_welfare

Mon Aug 20, 3:00 PM ET


Contact: Richard Wexler, Executive Director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, cell: +1-703-380-4252, Office: +1-703-212-2006

PHOENIX, Aug. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --

Arizona child welfare functions in a state of "perennial panic," endangering children even as it needlessly destroys thousands of families, a national non-profit child advocacy organization and a former Arizona legislator said Monday.

The National Coalition for Child Protection Reform released a report with 14 recommendations, including a "grand compromise" on funding to break what NCCPR Executive Director Richard Wexler called "the great Arizona stalemate" that has stalled progress in child welfare.

Wexler and former State Rep. Laura Knaperek (R-Tempe) called for a "fully transparent" child welfare system, with all court hearings and most records open to press and public.

"Days after taking office for her first term, Gov. Napolitano told Child Protective Services caseworkers to 'err on the side of protecting the child, and we'll sort it out later.' More than four-and-a-half years later, they still haven't sorted it out," Wexler said. "By the time the governor figured out that you can't err on the side of the child without erring on the side of the family, it was too late."

"There is nothing more important than protecting children. However, the philosophy of 'when in doubt, remove the child' is a recipe for disaster. It puts a target on children for physical, emotional, and educational risk," said Rep. Knaperek, who has been fighting to reform Arizona child welfare for over 17 years. "The real victims are the kids; measured by the high rates of everything from abuse in foster care itself to teen pregnancy, arrest and youth unemployment."

Wexler noted that his group, often called "the family values left" and Rep. Knaperek "start from very different places ideologically -- but we've reached very similar conclusions. Protecting children is an issue that crosses ideological lines in unusual ways; that makes compromise possible. The dreadful state of Arizona child welfare makes compromise essential."

Wexler said that the number of children taken from their homes each year in Arizona has skyrocketed, but instead of making children safer, child abuse deaths also have increased sharply.

SOURCE National Coalition for Child Protection Reform

Last edited by Marina on Mon Sep 24, 2007 12:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Tue Aug 21, 2007 8:06 pm


Published: 08.21.2007

Study: Arizona should increase child welfare spending by $54M

Tucson Citizen

A study by a nonprofit child welfare watchdog group calls for Arizona to boost child welfare spending in 2008 by $54 million and spend most of that money on housing, child care, addiction treatment and transportation for families in poverty.

The Virginia-based National Coalition for Child Protection Reform's study was funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The report, released Monday at a news conference at the state Capitol complex in Phoenix, concludes Arizona should reduce the number of children in foster care and increase spending to help struggling families keep their children at home.

The report calls for Arizona legislators on both sides of the aisle to stop squabbling over "right" and "left" philosophies of welfare reform.

Instead, they should "make concrete help available to ameliorate the worst aspects of poverty," the report said, adding funding for housing assistance, child care subsidies and residential addiction treatment that allows children to stay with their parents.

Richard Wexler, NCCPR's Alexandria, Va.-based executive director, chides Gov. Janet Napolitano's admonition to child welfare workers several years ago to "err on the side of protecting the child" by removing children at risk from their homes and placing them in foster care or shelters.

Jeanine L'Ecuyer, Gov. Janet Napolitano's spokeswoman, said the governor's "emphasis since she took office has been on doing the right thing for the child and that's where her emphasis continues to be."

In the 56-page report, Wexler cites a study published in American Economic Review in 2007 measuring the effect of foster care on children. The study found that "on average, children left in their own homes did better than comparably maltreated children placed in foster care."

The report recommends 14 measures to improve outcomes for children in the public welfare system in Arizona, including expanding the "Family to Family" program, which brings family members and others close to a family into the child welfare plan to prevent placing children with strangers.

Wexler said in the report the state's child welfare system "functions in a state of perennial panic, endangering children even as it needlessly destroys thousands of families" by placing children in foster care or shelters and failing to aid families it knows have members with substance abuse or serious behavioral health problems.

Beth Rosenberg, director of child welfare and juvenile justice reform for the nonprofit Children's Action Alliance in Phoenix, said reforms in the delivery of child welfare services made in a special legislative session in 2003 "were a move in the right direction."

She said the state Department of Economic Security, which oversees child welfare programs, has put more emphasis in the last couple of years on providing in-home services. But she said Wexler is correct when he says Arizona does not have enough resources to help families with substance abuse treatment, child care, housing and behavioral health services.

"We certainly think there needs to be more resources for those families. We don't think the kids are being removed (from their homes) just because the family is poor," she said.

Rosenberg said Arizona children are removed for "lots of things that happen around poverty, such as homelessness, drug addiction and unsupervised care."

She said CAA "is looking forward to working with the legislature and community groups for ways to improve our current child welfare system. We are not alone in this. I think the whole nation struggles with how to improve their child protective services systems."

A spokeswoman for the Arizona Department of Economic Security had not returned a call for comment on the report by Monday afternoon.

The report is also critical of local newspaper coverage of the deaths of children known to CPS, alleging that in Tucson, "newspapers mourn some children a lot more than others," writing less about the children who died in foster care than children who died in the care of their own parents.


Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Tue Aug 21, 2007 8:08 pm

. ... e0821.html

Advocate: Open CPS to scrutiny

State urged to make court records public and cut use of foster care

Amanda J. Crawford
The Arizona Republic
Aug. 21, 2007 12:00 AM

A national advocate for child- welfare reform is pushing for more openness in Child Protective Services cases in Arizona as part of a package of reform recommendations aimed at reducing the system's reliance on foster care.

Richard Wexler of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform called Monday for lawmakers to follow the example set in a dozen other states where he said court records in child-welfare cases are open for the public and the media to scrutinize.

"We really do need to know what is going on inside the system," Wexler said at a news conference at the Capitol on Monday.

Wexler, joined by Republican Sen. Linda Gray and former state Rep. Laura Knaperak, also called for $54 million in new funding for family-preservation programs and criticized reforms put in place in Arizona in 2003 that they said have resulted in too many children being placed in foster care. Those reforms, implemented after several high-profile child deaths, included making child safety, not family preservation, the priority.

Dana Naimark of Children's Action Alliance said she agreed with the need for more funding for in-home services for families but said the 2003 reforms were necessary to protect children.

"I think it was appropriate in 2003 to re-emphasize the focus on the safety of children, and the vast majority of Arizonans agree," she said.

Wexler's report was timed to coincide with the public scrutiny on the deaths of three Tucson children who died after their families had interaction with CPS. Lawmakers plan hearings next month examining the deaths of Ariana and Tyler Payne and Brandon Williams.

Wexler, whose group is based in northern Virginia, said too often such scrutiny results in reforms that tear families apart needlessly. He has long advocated against increased use of foster care as a solution to problems in child-welfare agencies and points to studies showing that children in foster care sometimes have worse outcomes than those left with parents. He called for more drug-treatment programs and defense attorneys for families involved with CPS.

"I'm not talking about leaving kids who are brutalized in their homes," Wexler said. He said the agency should focus removal efforts on the worst cases and find ways to serve other families without taking children away.

Jeanine L'Ecuyer, spokeswoman for Gov. Janet Napolitano, said the agency has made strides in recent years in reducing the number of children in group homes and increasing the number of families receiving home-based services.

"There is an emphasis, when it is safe and in the best interest of the child, to provide services in the home where it is possible to do that," L'Ecuyer said.

Rep. Jonathan Paton, R-Tucson, who called for the CPS hearings into the Tucson deaths, said he believes more openness in CPS cases would be good both for families and the system. But he said he is not convinced that the agency is too quick to pull children from homes. In the Payne case, for example, the children were left with their father, who now is charged with murder.


Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Tue Aug 21, 2007 8:12 pm

. ... =STY-95522

August 21, 2007

Critics want CPS records open to public

Mary K. Reinhart, Tribune

The state’s child welfare system has needlessly taken poor children away from their families, according to critics demanding that Child Protective Services open its records to the public.

Joined at a Capitol news conference Monday by a current and former legislator, Richard Wexler, who runs a small Virginia-based child welfare group, said CPS removes too many children “in cases where a family’s poverty is confused with neglect.”

Wexler, former Tempe Rep. Laura Knaperek and Sen. Linda Gray, R-Glendale, said reforms instituted by Gov. Janet Napolitano have floundered, yanking a record number of children out of their homes, overwhelming caseworkers and failing to get substance abuse and other services to troubled families.

But a pair of Republican lawmakers are concerned that CPS has done just the opposite: giving parents too many chances and, in two recent cases, failing to protect three Tucson children whose parents are charged in their deaths.

And the case last week of a Mesa mother who, once jailed in the death of her infant, was accused of beating her 10-yearold bloody in a Wal-Mart, also raised questions about CPS supervision.

Reps. Kirk Adams, R-Mesa, and Jonathan Paton, R-Tucson, agree, however, that legislation is needed to open court hearings and CPS records.

They’ll hold a hearing next month regarding the Tucson cases, a meeting that’s been delayed because the lawmakers want it open to the public.

“Anytime that we can shine sunshine in any dark places I think it’s better for public policy in the long run,” said Adams, who chairs the House Government Committee.

“My personal opinion right now is the current confidentiality law is too restrictive and is not conducive to good government.”

Ken Deibert, deputy director of the state Department of Economic Security, which oversees CPS, said more services have been provided to help keep children safely in their homes, and that’s decreased the number of kids in foster care.

After reaching a peak of nearly 10,000 children in foster care in 2005, the number has been declining, Deibert said, in large part because more families are receiving in-home services, like parenting classes, substance abuse treatment, family therapy, child care and job training.

The number of kids in group homes and shelters declined by 21 percent from March 2005 to March 2007.

Nearly 9,800 children were in foster care as of March, according to CPS statistics, about one-third of them living with relatives.

“We don’t remove a child because of neglect,” he said. “Where we can care for a child safely in the home, that’s what we’re going to do.”

The agency has expanded a program called Family to Family, which focuses on tapping broad community and family support to keep children at home, reunify them or, if necessary, find families nearby qualified to adopt them.

Deibert said he’s also willing to work with legislators to broaden the CPS confidentiality law, which allows the agency to withhold records and claim the release could interfere with a police or judicial investigation.

Wexler, Knaperek and Gray cited a new MIT study, based on children in the Illinois system, that showed those who were allowed to remain with their families fared better than those who were placed in foster care.

“We need to get the parents help instead of that emotional trauma that occurs when children are taken out,” Gray said.

Wexler, who distributed a 52-page report on Arizona’s child welfare system, called for $54 million in new funding, all of it directed to alternatives to foster care, with the caveat that the foster care system receive no more money.

He also recommended beefing up the Family to Family program, and giving parents legal counsel and staff to investigate CPS reports.

Adams said he doesn’t disagree that more in-home services are needed, but that’s not always enough to keep kids safe. He said Mesa CPS caseworkers tell him that 70 percent to 80 percent of the cases where children are removed involve methamphetamine.

“When you begin to look at the circumstances of these children being removed ... I’m hesitant to say all children are better off” in their homes, he said.

Deibert, who came here nine months ago from Idaho, said the push and pull between those who want more children removed and those who call for keeping more families together is a perennial debate in child welfare.

“That’s one of the delicate balances that you have to deal with,” he said. “I think we’re making good progress in the right direction.”


Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Sun Aug 26, 2007 9:38 am


CPS Draws Scrutiny, Lawmakers Take Public Look at Deaths

August 25th, 2007 @ 2:10pm
by Associated Press

PHOENIX - State lawmakers are likely to propose more transparency and other changes for state Child Protective Services after a rare public hearing on CPS' handling of pending or closed cases in which three children died, allegedly killed by parents.

Look for it, said Rep. Kirk Adams, the Mesa Republican who will wield the gavel during the House Government Committee's Sept. 18 hearing.

``These hearings will not meet my own expectations if we can't identify specific proposals to help CPS better protect children,'' Adams said. ``If we can't find those solutions, it might be a commentary on the complexity of child welfare, but that certainly is my goal.''

The two cases that lawmakers will examine involved a total of three Tucson children, including a 5-year-old boy whose body is still missing.

Though CPS records and hearings carry a presumption of being closed to the public, details on the agency's involvement in the cases were put under a spotlight when media outlets won a court order for release of records.

An underlying issue is the long-standing debate at the Legislature and elsewhere over whether CPS removes some children from homes unnecessarily or is too prone toward lapses that allow children to remain in dangerous situations.

``Are we too quick or are we not quick enough? Clearly in these two cases we were not quick enough,'' Adams said.

``Any time that you have children that have interacted with CPS and end up losing their lives, it's worthy of our attention to determine if there's something better we can do to prevent that from happening in the future,'' he said.

CPS officials say the agency's case managers followed procedures and that the agency welcomes the chance to explain itself now that the release of the records lifts much of the required confidentiality.

Gov. Janet Napolitano's administration, with funding provided by the Legislature, has boosted services for troubled families so more children can stay at home safely, but advocates say more needs to be done.

Such services included substance abuse resources, crisis intervention counseling, anger management, parent education, job-readiness training and therapy for married couples, families and children.

Removals of children from homes after reports of abuse or neglect spiked after Napolitano ordered CPS caseworkers in 2003 to remove children if there was any doubt about safety.

However, the number of removals has stabilized since peaking in 2005, and CPS reports it is successfully serving more children in their homes.

``It is a process of continuing improvement and great improvement has been made,'' said Liz Barker, a spokeswoman for CPS' parent agency, the Department of Economic Security.

Adams said he consider the latest figures ``good news'' but said he didn't yet have a firm opinion whether CPS is doing better than when Napolitano and lawmakers began making changes after she took office in 2003.

Several advocacy groups are offering assessments.

``With the resources that DES has had, I think they've done a pretty admirable job,'' said Beth Rosenberg of the Phoenix-based Children's Action Alliance. ``They certainly achieved some of the major objectives that they have tried to work on.''

Richard Wexler, executive director of the Alexandria, Va.-based National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, said Arizona is in a ``perennial panic'' about CPS horror stories and should remove fewer children from homes.

The system is clogged and some kids are being unnecessarily scarred by being placed in shelters or group homes, he said.

Instead, the state needs to dramatically up its funding for family support programs so that more children can remain with their families, Wexler said. ``I'm not talking about leaving kids who have been brutalized in their own homes.''

Napolitano, who made improving CPS an early priority for her administration, said Wexler's approach is overly simplistic but that she hopes lawmakers' examination of the Tucson cases leads to increased funding for family support programs.

She said she's willing to consider other suggestions, including increased public access to CPS proceedings.

However, ``you're talking about families in crisis situations, their most intimate facts are revealed in many of these case reports. The names and identities of other children are revealed,'' she said. ``Once something is on the Internet, it's on the Internet forever.''


Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Mon Sep 24, 2007 12:25 pm

. ... opaynekids

New CPS policy: Heed court directives Agency:
Custody-case rule not linked to Payne kids

By Josh Brodesky , arizona daily star
Thu Sep 20, 4:41 AM ET

Child Protective Services is now requiring its investigators to check court records for all cases involving custody disputes and not to take action that might conflict with pre-existing court orders.

Officials with the state agency said the change was not prompted by the death of Ariana Payne and the presumed death of her brother Tyler, which came after a court order granting custody to the children's mother was ignored by Tucson CPS workers and the police.

The policy change, and others, went into effect Wednesday. CPS workers were notified of it in a mass e-mail on Tuesday.

CPS caseworkers are now required to "make efforts to confirm and obtain copies of orders restricting or denying custody," says the e-mail from Ken Deibert, deputy director of the Arizona Department of Economic Security. The new rules also require that workers not make a child placement that "in any way conflicts with the order."

The new policy comes about seven months after the case of 4-year-old Ariana and 5-year-old Tyler was made public. Documents have shown that CPS workers and Tucson police did not follow a court order that gave the children's mother, Jamie Hallam, sole custody of the children without visitation rights.

Instead, CPS and the Tucson Police Department kept the children with their father, Christopher Matthew Payne, and his girlfriend, Reina Gonzales, who are charged with murdering the two.

The policy change was not prompted by the Payne case, Deibert said. Rather, it was the result of an overall policy review and the recent adoption of a new assessment tool.

"We looked at a number of issues that related to how staff gather information," he said. "We wanted to provide clarity to our staff around what our expectations were."

Deibert has said in the past that the Payne case was handled appropriately. Asked if the new policy reflects a change in that position, he said, "You are talking about then and now."

The failure to follow Hallam's court order has been a central aspect of the case, which was first reported in February when police found Ariana's decomposing body in a trash bin after it had been placed in a storage locker. Tyler's remains have not been found, but he is presumed dead.

Hallam was granted sole custody of Ariana and Tyler in June 2003, records show. Despite the court order, she allowed her children to visit Payne in January 2006, but he never brought them back.

Hallam tracked the children down on March 9, 2006, at Payne's apartment, but police refused to help her get the two back after a CPS worker told them Hallam was being investigated on a neglect allegation.

However, a letter to Hallam shows the neglect allegation was unsubstantiated, and her case had been closed on March 1, 2006.

State Rep. Jonathan Paton, a Tucson Republican who called for a CPS hearing to be held next week, said he couldn't see how the policy change could not be connected to the Payne case.

The real question, he said, was why checking court documents was not required to begin with.

"It just seems like something they already should have been doing and something that I understand that many of these caseworkers were doing," he said. "The question is: Do they need something to remind them to follow the law? It seems pretty straightforward: Follow the court order."

Paton will be able to ask that question and many others at next week's CPS hearing. Deibert will testify at the hearing along with DES Director Tracy Wareing, CPS Program Administrator Janice Mickens and Lillian Downing, who heads CPS in Pima County.

In recent weeks there had been some discussion and questions about whether Downing would appear at the hearing.

"Initially, CPS wanted Mr. Deibert to handle the questions, but when I explained to them my rationale for why Ms. Downing should also participate, they agreed," said state Rep. Kirk Adams, R-Mesa, who will lead the hearing.

While Deibert and Wareing are relatively new to their positions, Downing oversaw CPS in Pima County while the Payne case and the case of Brandon Williams — a 5-year-old who died in March despite CPS contact — played out.

"We are trying to get as close to the situation as we possibly can," Adams said. "It's very important that the members get as broad and as deep of an understanding of these two cases as possible. We certainly couldn't do that without hearing from the district supervisor."


Published: 09.21.2007

CPS rule book revised to improve child safety

Tucson Citizen

The Department of Economic Security has made "major policy revisions" in the rule book used by Child Protective Services.
The changes are aimed at improving child safety.
The policy revisions were sent by e-mail this week to CPS workers by DES Deputy Director Ken Deibert, who oversees CPS. They took effect Sept. 19.
CPS now requires workers to collect and review certain criminal history records when investigating a case.
The revisions require CPS workers to do more to locate a family and children in order to assess the risk of future harm to a child.
They must contact other jurisdictions, other states, the military and tribal authorities to investigate allegations of abuse or neglect.
The revised rules also require a CPS worker to get copies of court orders "restricting or denying custody, visitation or contact by a parent or other person in the home with the child."
They require that CPS "not facilitate or concur with placement or contact with the child in any way that conflicts with the order."
And if the status of a custody order cannot be determined, the CPS worker now must contact the state Attorney General's Office.
These changes appear to address how CPS workers handled the case of Jamie Hallam and Christopher Payne case.
Payne, Hallam's ex-husband, has been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of their children, Ariana Payne, 4, and Tyler Payne, 5.
A CPS supervisor told police to leave the children with their father even after Hallam showed the officer custody papers indicating she had sole legal custody of them and he had no visitation rights.
CPS spokeswoman Liz Barker Alvarez said the policy revisions are made periodically by DES administrators.
She said they are based on internal review of legislative requirements, to clarify existing policy and to integrate different types of CPS risk assessments.
The revisions also clarify that CPS workers must discuss and promote infant-safe sleeping with parents of children 1 year old and younger.
Tucson police said the death of a 3-week-old boy on Sept. 13 appeared to be caused by "co-sleeping." The baby was in bed with his mother. The death is being investigated by police.


Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Thu Sep 27, 2007 5:31 am

. ... cpshearing

House panel rejects 11th-hour attempt to close CPS hearing

By Daniel Scarpinato , arizona daily star
Tue Sep 25, 4:41 AM ET

PHOENIX — Today's legislative probe into Child Protective Services will remain public despite a last-minute request by Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall to close the proceedings.

In an e-mail sent early Monday afternoon to House Government Committee Chairman Kirk Adams, LaWall argued the hearing could impede her prosecution of two Tucson cases that prompted legislative involvement.

Copying her e-mail to CPS employees set to testify today, LaWall asked the committee to hear testimony in a "confidential, nonpublic hearing, with the transcript to be made public only after the conclusion of the criminal trials."

Adams said Monday that with the details of the cases already made public by a Maricopa County judge and with "dozens of newspaper stories" having been written, LaWall's concerns had no merit.

"I hope that this last-hour communication is not simply an effort to discourage inquiry of CPS," Adams wrote in his e-mail response.

The committee is examining how CPS dealt with two cases in Tucson that let to the deaths of two children and the presumed death of a third.


Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Thu Sep 27, 2007 5:33 am


CPS Official: Overwork Caused Breakdown in Child Death Case

September 25th, 2007 @ 1:51pm
by Associated Press

PHOENIX - A legislative committee hearing is dissecting state Child Protective Services' contact with a splintered Tucson family that included two children who were killed, allegedly by their father.

The mother had been the subject of an abuse complaint after the couple divorced, and she placed the kids with the father though she still had sole legal custody. CPS workers went along with that, but the dad and his girlfriend are now charged with murdering the children.

A CPS manager said an investigation found the abuse unsubstantiated but that the case should have been kept open longer so the agency could monitor the safe handoff of legal custody of the children.

The manager said investigators' heavy workload and a supervisor's inexperience were a major factor in the case being closed prematurely.


Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Thu Sep 27, 2007 6:00 am


An older article ... 31-CP.html

CPS case records released in deaths of 2 children

Body of 1 child was found months after visits ended

Matthew Benson and Yvonne Wingett
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 31, 2007 12:00 AM

State caseworkers stopped checking on the welfare of two Tucson children almost 10 months before one was found stuffed into a plastic tub in a storage locker and their father was accused of murdering them.

Documents released Monday show Child Protective Services concluded in April 2006 that the children should remain with their father despite a court order that granted the mother custody and gave him no visitation rights.

CPS officials responded Monday that caseworkers followed proper procedures in the case and that they were unaware of any complaints about the father. The officials also acknowledged they did not know of the court order refusing the father visiting rights.

Based on an open-records request by The Arizona Republic, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ordered the release of documents related to the deaths of Ariana Payne, 4, and her brother, Tyler, 5. His body has never been found.

Ariana and Tyler's deaths, as well as that of another Tucson child, Brandon Williams, have spurred legislators to call for hearings to investigate the cases and the conduct of CPS workers. Documents related to Brandon's case also were released Monday.

"Clearly we have issues with the Tucson sector of CPS," said Rep. Kirk Adams, a Mesa Republican who has reviewed the Payne case files. "It is incumbent upon us to look into these things."

Gov. Janet Napolitano is "horrified about what happened to these children," spokeswoman Jeanine L'Ecuyer said, and is in constant contact with CPS officials.

The records show CPS had closed its case on the two Payne children, assuming they were safe with their father, Christopher Payne. The documents depict a family in turmoil and an agency struggling with how to protect children from the very people they should least fear: their parents.

Not in the documents but also telling is chronic understaffing that CPS officials say hampered the agency's ability to respond to its caseload. At one time, 40 percent of CPS' investigator positions were vacant.

The short lives of the Payne children had been tumultuous, the documents show, with their parents estranged and their mother battling drugs, depression and bipolar disorder. Ariana and Tyler often bounced between the homes of their mother, Jamie Hallam, and father.

Divorce decree ignored

The couple divorced in 2003, with each accusing the other of drug abuse and mistreatment of the children. But a court awarded Hallam custody and denied Payne visitation, and the divorce decree noted his past drug abuse and allegations of domestic violence.

CPS never investigated the divorce decree, officials said Monday, so it wasn't taken into account years later when a caseworker encouraged Payne to seek custody of the children. CPS officials, in fact, said they were unaware of any complaints against Payne. In March 2006, a CPS supervisor instructed Tucson police to leave the children in Payne's care when an officer responded to Hallam's complaint that Payne had not returned the children after a visit.

A couple of months earlier, in January, Payne had reappeared in the children's lives after several years away. He had a job, a girlfriend and what seemed to be a more-stable home life than Hallam's. She had willingly allowed Ariana and Tyler to visit Payne, wanting them to have a relationship with their father.

But during one visit in January 2006, Payne decided the children were safer with him than their mother. So he kept them.

A month later, a CPS worker during a welfare check of Payne's home noted no signs that the children were being neglected. Payne had already told CPS of his hopes to gain custody of the children and had been informed of the proper paperwork.

It would be another month, March 9, before Hallam would complain to police that Payne had kept her children. The officer who visited the home in response to that call saw little reason to worry: "I found both children (Ariana and Tyler) playing in a bedroom," the officer wrote in a police report "Both kids were happy, appeared healthy, and were excited to see police in their home."

Case closed

One month later, April 14, CPS closed the case with the children living in Payne's care. He still lacked custody, but CPS officials believed they were safe.

"We had not indication whatsoever he presented a threat," CPS head Ken Deibert said Monday. "There were not allegations of abuse or neglect against Mr. Payne."

Within months, Ariana and Tyler would be dead. Payne and his girlfriend, Reina Gonzales, are in jail and face first-degree murder charges.

Rep. Jonathan Paton, a Tucson Republican who also has seen the Payne case files, questioned why CPS closed the case in April.

"They closed the case without custody being established," he said, referring to documents released Monday. "It was irresponsible for them to close the case without knowing what the custody would be of these kids and never checking up on them again."

CPS officials explained that cases are routinely closed after 21 days if there are no active complaints or allegations against a parent or guardian. There were no complaints against Payne, though CPS was unaware a court had barred him from visitation with the children.

The case of Ariana and Tyler isn't an indictment against the entire CPS system, Deibert said.

"You cannot judge the child-welfare system by one or two cases. Is the system perfect? No. I don't know any system that is perfect."


Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Thu Sep 27, 2007 6:06 am


Document: Slain girl was last in custody of her father

By Alexis Huicochea and Dale Quinn

The man accused of killing his two young children and leaving one's remains in a storage locker told police that he was the last person to have custody of his daughter and that he placed her body inside a plastic container, according to a court document.

According to the document filed by police in Pima County Justice Court on March 1, it was determined that 4-year-old Ariana Payne, whose body was found inside a North Side storage unit in February, sustained non-accidental trauma and her death was ruled a homicide.

Ariana's brother, 5-year-old Tyler, is also believed to be dead but has yet to be found.

According to court records, Christopher M. Payne, 28, was indicted Monday on two charges of first-degree murder, three counts of child abuse and two counts of abandonment or concealment of a dead body.

Police declined to comment on the indictment but did say they are continuing to search for Tyler's remains.

According to the indictment, Payne abused Ariana and Tyler before killing them sometime between March 9, 2006, and Sept. 1, 2006. It says Payne caused or permitted Ariana's bones to be broken and failed to seek prompt medical attention and/or allowed her to starve to death.

Ariana's body was found inside a storage unit at U-Store-It near East Prince Road and North First Avenue, by a manager who noticed a foul odor coming from a plastic tub.

Payne was arrested less than two weeks later, and the arrest of his live-in girlfriend followed March 8.

According to a court document filed by police, Payne's girlfriend, Reina I. Gonzales, also was caring for Ariana and Tyler when the children disappeared.

She told police that she never left the apartment, and witness statements indicate that during that time the children were harmed and living in an abusive environment, the document said. It goes on to say that Gonzales "never called or protected the children." She was subsequently arrested on one count of child abuse.

Witnesses also told police that they had seen bruising on one of the children, so out of concern, they questioned the child, who said that Payne was the person who inflicted the injuries, according to the document. Those witnesses said Gonzales was aware of that abuse and still did nothing about it.

Child Protective Services issued a statement early in March that said an investigation revealed no information that the children were at risk of harm with Payne. The release also said police received a call a year ago related to the custody of the children and concerns for their welfare. At the time neither agency had reason to believe the children wouldn't be safe with Payne.

The children, who were supposed to be in the custody of their mother — Jamie Hallam, were placed with Payne by "another individual family member," according to Child Protective Services. Spokeswoman Liz Barker Alvarez said she could not say who that family member was.

"This is a very, very terrible case, and we are working with the detectives," Barker Alvarez said.

She would not release any additional information about the case, including whether a social worker was assigned to check on the children's welfare.

Dr. Eric Peters, Pima County's deputy chief medical examiner, said he could not release the cause of Ariana's death or when she died because the Police Department is still conducting its investigation.
Attempts to reach Jamie Hallam were unsuccessful.


Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Thu Sep 27, 2007 6:16 am


Summary of Prior CPS Contacts with Christopher Payne

In May 2002, CPS had contact with Mr. Payne while investigating low-risk physical abuse allegations concerning Tyler.* Tyler was not living with Mr. Payne at the time that the alleged incidents occurred and Mr. Payne was not the perpetrator of the abuse allegations, but the investigation included contact with him. After the alleged incidents took place, Tyler's mother had left him in Mr. Payne's care. Legal custody of Tyler had not been established but Mr. Payne had been provided with information to obtain an attorney.

*Further details of the allegations are not able to be released because they do not involve Mr. Payne and are not related to the cause of Ariana's death.

CPS visited Mr. Payne's home on May 2, 2002. Case notes indicate the case manager observed Tyler, who had a happy disposition and appeared healthy and well cared for. The case manager noted she had no concerns. Mr. Payne was working full time for the city. His sister and the paternal grandparents were caring for Tyler when Mr. Payne was at work and were helping him. The CPS Specialist observed food in the cupboards and refrigerator, and formula for the baby. The infant had a crib and appropriate equipment for taking care of him. The CPS specialist indicated that Mr. Payne was appropriate with Tyler and willing to care for him. Mr. Payne indicated he might want assistance with child care in the future.

On June 8, 2002, Mr. Payne contacted the CPS specialist and requested day care for Tyler. Child care services were authorized for six months.

On June 11 2002, Mr. Payne contacted the CPS specialist, leaving a message that he was having some problems with Tyler's mother, indicating she wanted to take custody of Tyler, but he was concerned about her ability to meet Tyler's needs.

The CPS Specialist spoke to the father on June 13, 2002. Mr. Payne repeated that he was very worried about letting Tyler's mother have Tyler. He stated he did not believe she is able to care for him. Mr. Payne indicated he was going to give the mother a visit with Tyler for the weekend, but was worried she wouldn't give him back. The CPS Specialist provided Mr. Payne with the number for lawyer referral.

On June 17, 2002, the CPS Specialist indicated in a closing summary for the case that Tyler was in very good care with his biological father. The allegations were to be unsubstantiated.

In October 2005, CPS received another report alleging neglect of Tyler and Ariana. Again, Mr. Payne was not identified as a perpetrator of the neglect. Mr. Payne did not live in the home with Tyler and Ariana and was not contacted by CPS until February 2006, when CPS learned that Tyler and Ariana had been left in the care of Mr. Payne by their mother sometime in January 2006. In a telephone call with Mr. Payne, he indicated he was unsure what to do with the children since he did not have custody of them.

The CPS Specialist advised Mr. Payne that he could consider changing custody and was provided with information to contact the court for custodial issues.

On February 14, 2006, Mr. Payne contacted the CPS Specialist. He was concerned because the children's mother said she was coming to get the children and there was nothing that he could do to stop her. Mr. Payne indicated the mother told him that she had been cooperating with CPS. Mr. Payne was advised that the mother was not cooperating with CPS services. The CPS Specialist suggested Mr. Payne contact CPS if the mother attempted to take the children.

On February 14, 2006, a CPS case aide attempted to visit Mr. Payne's home but found no one at home.

The CPS Specialist documented in the case file on February 14, 2006 that Mr. Payne had obtained paperwork for a change in custody, but had not yet filled out the paperwork. It was also noted that Mr. Payne had been advised to contact CPS if mother attempted to abscond with the children since the children would be at risk with her.

On February 15, 2006, the CPS specialist received a telephone call from the mother. The mother reported that the children were with their father, who (according to the mother) was ordered no visitation in June of 2004 due to domestic violence. In the discussion that followed, the mother indicated that she had allowed the children to go with Mr. Payne because they had not seen him in three years. She also said that Mr. Payne had never harmed the children in the past. The CPS Specialist suggested that the mother take the children to her step-father's home (maternal stepgrandfather) and cooperate with services. She was asked to contact her step-father and seek assistance from him and she refused.

On February 21, 2006, a CPS case aide conducted a home visit to Mr. Payne's home and observed the children. No indication of abuse or neglect was identified.

On February 22, 2006, the case aide provided Mr. Payne with information to enroll the children in AHCCCS health care.

On March 9, 2006, CPS was informed by police that the mother had attempted to retrieve the children from Mr. Payne. Mr. Payne told the officer he had petitioned for emergency custody with the court and showed the officer the paperwork. Mr. Payne also advised the officer that CPS was involved. The officer contacted the CPS supervisor and information was shared about why the children would be at risk with their mother. Because the mother is not suspected in the death of Ariana Payne and the disappearance of Tyler Payne, the details of this information cannot be released. The officer was informed that CPS had no reports of abuse or neglect by Mr. Payne. The officer left the children in the care of their father.

The police report from March 9, 2006 indicates the officer documented that the children appeared to be happy and healthy, that there was plenty of food in the home and the home looked to be in good order except for some "uncleanness" in the kitchen.

The CPS case was closed on April 14, 2006.

Custody Issue

At no time did CPS award custody of the children to Mr. Payne nor does CPS have authority to award custody. Parental custody is awarded by the Domestic Relations Court. In working with families, CPS does provide information to parents about the process of getting or changing custody orders. If requested by law enforcement or the court, we will share any case information that we have, including custody arrangements, risk issues, etc.


Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Thu Sep 27, 2007 8:10 am

. ... =STY-98210

September 26, 2007 - 1:04AM

CPS admits errors in deaths of 2 Tucson kids

Mary K. Reinhart, Tribune

State child welfare officials acknowledged they made mistakes leading up to the deaths of two Tucson children, but told a legislative committee Tuesday that more caseworkers could resolve the agency’s problems.

Members of the House Government Committee spent five hours grilling Child Protective Services administrators and dissecting the agency’s actions before April 14, 2006, when CPS closed the case on Ariana and Tyler Payne.

Ariana’s body was found in February in a storage locker. Tyler is presumed dead. Their father and a girlfriend have been charged in their deaths.

Lillian Downing, program manager for the CPS division that includes Pima County, said the case should not have been closed until custody of the children had been clarified.

Although the children’s mother had sole custody and their father was not allowed visitation, she left the children with him in January 2006 and a CPS caseworker suggested that he seek custody.

As a result of Tyler and Ariana’s deaths, a new CPS policy forbids caseworkers from overriding court orders.

At the time, Downing said, the Tucson office handling the children’s case had a new supervisor and several vacancies.

Ken Deibert, deputy director of the Department of Economic Security, which oversee CPS, said staffing shortages force many CPS supervisors to carry caseloads, limiting their ability to supervise young case managers.


Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Thu Sep 27, 2007 8:45 am


Tucson Region
CPS investigation

Legislators seek answers on why CPS ignored custody order, are told of agency staff shortage

'Based on the information, we should have kept the case open. We did not.' — Lillian Downing, CPS's Pima County head

By Josh Brodesky
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 09.26.2007

PHOENIX — Child Protective Services made a mistake when it closed its investigation into the mother of Ariana and Tyler Payne, the agency's Pima County head said Tuesday during a legislative hearing.

At the very least, keeping the case open would have allowed investigators to continue to check on the welfare of the two children while their parents' custody dispute played out in court, said Lillian Downing, adding the closure was a result of extreme staffing shortages.

"Based on the information, we should have kept the case open. We did not," she said.

Roughly seven months after the police investigation started into the deaths of Ariana and Tyler Payne, Downing and other CPS officials testified before the House Government Committee about how the Payne case was handled.

The hearing opened the door for changes allowing CPS to have better access to criminal histories, improve communication with police and file missing persons reports.

The hearing did not address CPS's handling of the case of Brandon Williams, a 5-year-old boy who died in March despite contact with CPS. Williams' mother and a friend are charged with the murder.
The decision to close the case was one of the few mistakes

Downing and other officials acknowledged in the face of questions about why CPS workers disregarded a court order, failed to check court records or did not intervene with a temporary custody notification. Nonetheless, Downing also said, the case's closure was appropriate.

"I cannot say it was an error that we closed the case because, regarding the allegations and our involvement with the mother, there was nothing further for us to do," she said.
Such inconsistent answers during the five-hour hearing left lawmakers frustrated.

"We simply couldn't get straight answers from the questions," said Jonathan Paton, a Tucson Republican who has taken the lead on the hearings.

"We asked if there were mistakes made. Somehow there weren't mistakes, but somehow there were. It was very confusing to me as far as what the real answer was," Paton said.

In February, 4-year-old Ariana's decomposing body was found in a trash bin after it had been kept in a storage locker. Five-year-old Tyler's remains have not been found, but he is presumed dead.
Documents have shown CPS workers and Tucson police did not follow a court order giving the children's mother, Jamie Hallam, sole custody without visitation rights because there were concerns she was using methamphetamine, an allegation that has never been proven.

Instead of following the order, CPS and the Tucson Police Department kept the children with their father, Christopher Matthew Payne, and his girlfriend Reina Gonzales, who are charged with murdering them.

CPS officials acknowledged investigator Cindy Graupmann never checked court records to verify the court order.

But the decision to disregard the order was a major focus of the hearing. CPS officials said there were no indications the children were in danger as Payne had never been the subject of any child abuse allegations.

Moreover, it was Hallam who violated the court order by placing the kids with Payne in January 2006, CPS officials said.
"We had no reason to say these children were in imminent risk with their father," Downing said.

Documents have shown that on March 9, 2006, Hallam attempted to get her kids back from Payne — one week after she was told her CPS case had been closed. She went to a gas station near Payne's apartment and called Tucson police asking for help.

When officers arrived, she showed them her court order. The officers went to Payne's home but decided to keep the kids there at the direction of CPS because of the concerns about methamphetamine use.

Deputy Chief Kermit Miller said if Hallam had protested that decision, the officer would have enforced the court order.
"If she had objected, he would have had to have gone back and at least threatened an arrest," he said.

It is the department's policy to follow CPS's direction on child placement, Miller said.

Another key point in the hearing was why CPS never intervened by using a temporary custody notice, which would have allowed the agency to take custody of the kids for 72 hours.

Much of the CPS rationale for keeping the kids with Payne was the suspicion Hallam was using methamphetamine.

Case notes have documented the investigator, Graupmann, believed Hallam was using methamphetamine because of sores on her body and her repeated refusal to take drug tests.

Rep. Kirk Adams, R-Mesa, who chairs the committee, asked why a temporary custody notice wasn't used if there were so many concerns about Hallam's supposed drug use.

"They could have gone to court. They could have had a hearing. The judge could have ruled whether it was appropriate to stay with the father," Adams said.

Downing said there wasn't enough evidence to take action; and if CPS lost in court the children would have had to go back to their mother.

No one has been disciplined in the handling of the Payne case, and officials said any problems that did arise in the course of the investigation were due to a staffing shortage.

"We had as many as 40 percent vacancies" in Pima County at that time, said Ken Debeirt, deputy director of the Department of Economic Security, who oversees CPS.

"When you get that kind of movement, change in relationships, it has an impact in how the practice is conducted," he said.
Said Downing, "We should have kept the case open. We did not. It was due to staffing issues, the workload. This particular case investigator had 30 open cases."

While there was much rehashing of the Payne case, the hearing also highlighted some potential changes to the agency to ensure child safety.

Some ideas were allowing CPS workers to file missing-persons reports and providing better access to Department of Public Safety criminal records.

"Access to criminal history information is particularly important both from a worker safety standpoint as well as assisting us" with investigations, Deibert said.

While endorsing the changes, Paton said, "I think there were serious mistakes that were made, and I want to make sure there certainly is a measure of accountability."


Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Thu Sep 27, 2007 8:54 am

. ... 94345.html

CPS director questioned in recent child abuse deaths

09:35 PM MST on Tuesday, September 25, 2007

By Delane Cleveland, Fox 11 News

Delane Cleveland's report Two Tucson children, four-year-old Ariana Payne and her five-year-old brother, Tyler, were allegedly murdered by their father in February.

This, after Child Protective Services and Tucson Police failed to follow a court order that gave sole custody of the children to their mother.

Today, a legislative panel in Phoenix is asking what went wrong.

The woman who manages the CPS district program in Pima County spoke before a packed room at the State Capitol today. She admits the agency made a mistake and closed the Payne case too soon.

Jamie Hallam’s MySpace page serves as an online memorial to her two children, Ariana and Tyler.

Ariana’s body was found in a storage locker on February 18. Tyler’s body was never found.

Their father is charged in their deaths. Tyler and Ariana’s mother, Jamie Hallam, says she let the children stay with him, yet he had no legal right to even see the children because a judge had granted sole custody to the mother after they divorced.

It was up to CPS to ensure the kids stayed with their mother, but they closed the case too soon.

CPS Pima County Director Lillian Downing explains, “In these circumstances, we had no reason to say these children were in imminent risk of harm with their father. He was caring for them. He was in the process of changing custody.”

A legislative panel questioned Downing for more than three hours about what happened.

One legislator asked, “The practice you just explained to us was now the practice that was followed, so now, what is the practice? The practice is whatever I feel like today?”

Downing admits, “It was due to staffing issues, to workload…this particular investigator had a new supervisor. She had 30 open cases.”

Overworked and inexperienced were the two primary reasons Downing says resulted in the breakdown that allowed the father to see the two kids. This thought appeared to make Downing emotional. “Certainly, standing here today, I am horrified that these children are dead. It’s a terrible situation, none that I ever want to repeat.”

Legislators also wanted to talk about a second CPS case, the March death of 5-year-old Brandon Williams, but time did not permit for that today.


Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Sat Sep 29, 2007 7:03 am

. ... the-lambs/

Silence of the Lambs

CPS would rather shut up than deal with scrutiny

By Sarah Fenske
Published: September 27, 2007

The calls come to my voice mail with depressing regularity. At least once a week, sometimes more.

The stories that follow are unique only in the details. Mom or Dad insist that they've done nothing wrong. And even if they did, once, they swear they've turned things around. They're doing everything they can, but they can't seem to make any progress in the system.

Please, they say, can't New Times get to the bottom of what's happening with their case?

The short answer is, no. We can't.

And that's just the way CPS likes it.

The fact is, unlike trials for embezzlement or murder or even rape, CPS dependency hearings, which determine custody and whether parents continue to have the right to raise their children, are closed to the public. The agency's paperwork is also sealed.

And that means the entire system operates without scrutiny from outsiders, be they reporters or advocates. (There's a state ombudsman, but he is legally barred from releasing specifics about cases.) We never get to see the evidence that would determine whether kids are wrongly being taken from their parents, as so many callers insist on my voice mail, or whether CPS is instead erring on the side of leaving kids in unsafe homes.

We can write about the big picture because CPS has to release some statistical information every six months. But we can't look at the heart of the system: the individual families who are forced to deal with it. Even when those families are crying out for their cases to be reviewed, we simply can't get enough information to determine what's really going on.

Our tax dollars pay for this system. Even more importantly, we all depend on it to protect our state's youngest and most helpless citizens.

None of us has any idea whether it's working.

Here's the good news: An Arizona state senator plans to introduce a bill that would let the sunshine in. Senator Linda Gray, R-Mesa, wants changes for CPS that include opening up dependency hearings and paperwork.

It's a really good idea, one that the Legislature needs to follow through on. And if Governor Janet Napolitano is serious about improving CPS, as she's claimed, she, too, must get onboard.

In the past two decades, 17 other states have opened dependency hearings to the public. As far as I can tell, not one has reported major problems with open hearings. And this should tell you something: Not one has since reverted to a closed system.

More recently, Arizona tried a pilot program to open a small number of cases — about 10 percent — to the public. A report, prepared by an ASU graduate student at the conclusion of the pilot program last year, found no real problems with increased openness.

And yet when the pilot program ended, we went right back to closed doors.

I can't understand why. Unless, of course, CPS simply doesn't want anyone keeping an eye on it.

Liz Barker Alvarez, the spokeswoman for CPS, tells me that Arizona has "one of the broadest laws when it comes to sharing information about families involved in the child welfare system."

Maybe — and I think this is a big "maybe" — that's true on paper. But it's definitely not true in reality.

Here's how dependency hearings work in Arizona. Supposedly, anyone — including parents who want help in getting their kids back, or grandparents who insist that the wrong person has been handed custody, or even the media — can petition for the hearing to be open.

But the court rarely seems to take the petition seriously, much less agrees to open things up. I've had parents beg the judge to let me in. Nope, the judge decreed. That was that. I didn't even get a chance to argue my case. And if you think getting into court is tough, getting records is even worse. Public-records laws simply don't apply.

That's why advocates like Richard Wexler, director of the Virginia-based National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, are calling for a "rebuttable presumption of openness." Basically, a hearing would be open unless someone could demonstrate to the judge why it should be otherwise.

Hearings and records should be closed, Wexler argues, only if lawyers for the parents or the child want them closed — and if they can convince the judge "by clear and convincing evidence that opening a hearing or record or portion of a hearing would cause severe emotional damage to a child." Notice that the request would have to come from the parents, or the child's lawyer. CPS wouldn't be allowed to ask for closure.

It's a good idea. Because, for all the talk about how secrecy is necessary to protect children, the reality is much different.

When the doors are closed, it can be easier to focus on keeping the wheels turning than on achieving true justice. One example: As my colleague Paul Rubin reported earlier this year, lawyers who handle CPS dependency hearings sometimes don't even meet their clients until they get to court ("Outrageous Fortune," April 19). Rubin also found lawyers taking on as many as 500 new cases a year.

No wonder these parents are feeling bereft of representation!

Earlier this year, I wrote about Robin Scoins, a Surprise woman whose son was "stolen" by the agency. While she was pregnant, Scoins had taken medication known to cause a false positive on drug tests, but after her postnatal test came back positive for "amphetamines," CPS wouldn't listen to her protestations of innocence and took away her infant son. It didn't matter that the baby had never tested positive for any drug. Or that Scoins subsequently passed several drug tests.

Scoins now has full custody of her son, but she devotes much of her time to advocating for families stuck in the CPS system. In that volunteer role, Scoins regularly has to fight to get into hearings and then has to fight to stay. (Keep in mind, these are cases she's attending at the express request of the families involved — she is way too busy to seek out cases where she isn't wanted.)

Subject(s): Arizona Child Protective Services, open-hearing laws In one case, Scoins tells me, the judge kicked out a child's biological grandfather. His crime? CPS thought he'd shared paperwork from the case with Scoins, a charge the grandfather denies. The lawyer representing CPS actually asked the judge to hold the man in contempt of court for supposedly sharing the "secret" file.


There's a bigger picture to all this, and it has to do with accountability.

As I wrote last year, after Janet Napolitano was elected governor, she vowed to reform CPS ("Suffer the Children," October 26, 2006). But her call to remove children first and ask questions later had serious repercussions for an already-stressed system. The number of kids in foster care skyrocketed. Caseloads increased to the point of insanity — and that meant fewer kids in foster care got regular visits from the workers assigned to keep an eye on them.

Napolitano's actions were triggered, in part, by a series of violent deaths. Too many parents were killing their kids even while caseworkers were supposedly monitoring them. Err on the side of the safety, Napolitano instructed. Get the kids out and into foster care.

But the sad truth is that even with the dramatic increase in kids in foster care, the number of children dying from abuse or neglect has only increased. The number of kids slain while CPS was supposedly monitoring them hit a record high in 2005, the last year for which we have complete data ("Death Watch," December 14, 2006).

So, more kids are in foster care — even at a time when serious studies have concluded that foster care, shockingly, is even harder on kids than mild abuse or neglect. And, there's still been no decline in murder rates.

Last month, the Arizona Daily Star ran a story that highlighted many of the statistics that I reported last year. Hot in the middle of a re-election campaign, Napolitano had refused to talk to me. But she did talk to the Star.

And this is what she said: The statistics are irrelevant.

"I think taking isolated statistics out of thin air without attachment to particular cases is not helpful," the governor said.

Does anyone else see the irony? Here the guv is saying that statistics are meaningless and that we need to look at particular cases. But rather than open up the courts, and records, so we can do just that, the agency has fought to keep each particular in a shroud of secrecy.

Heck, even after two toddlers were murdered earlier this year in Tucson, the Star and the Arizona Republic had to sue to get CPS to release its files on the children's case. (Typically, CPS releases a summary of its files after a child dies. In this case, the papers wanted more.)

Don't tell me that CPS was protecting these kids' privacy. The kids, remember, were dead.

Napolitano's spokeswoman says that the governor is in favor of making CPS "as open as it can be." I hope she's sincere — but I have to wonder why, in that case, all dependency hearings were closed immediately after the end of the pilot progam.

Indeed, Alvarez, the CPS spokeswoman, suggests that it may be useless to open dependency hearings. People just aren't interested. "Very few members of the public or the media attended any of the hearings," she says.

It is true that while the ASU study shows that more than one-fourth of the open hearings attracted the attendance of a "non-party," only seven hearings were, in fact, attended by a reporter. That's 1 percent of the open hearings in Maricopa County — and a truly shameful statistic.

But buried in that same report is an e-mail that an anonymous lawyer in the system sent to the ASU researcher. That e-mail, I think, makes it clear that the lack of attendance wasn't simply a sign of lazy reporters. (Although, trust me, I know that was a factor, too.)

"If more members of the public knew that hearings were open, more people might come, and then CPS would be more accountable," the lawyer wrote. "Parents generally don't want the hearings open, but in the cases where parents would want the press, or other members of the public, present . . . CPS can object, [meaning] there is no way to ever get members of the press or the public into a hearing!

"The open-hearing law," the lawyer concluded, "has no teeth!"

It's time for the Legislature to fix that. And it's time for Governor Napolitano to put her political talents to work protecting the children in the system, not CPS. We owe it to these kids to keep an eye on what's really going on — and we can't do that without more openness.

Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Wed Nov 28, 2007 7:44 pm


Tucson Region

CPS: in the public eye

Child Protective Services faces legislative changes, may see its funding cut

By Josh Brodesky
arizona daily star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 11.27.2007

After nearly a year of intense public scrutiny following the deaths of three Tucson children, Child Protective Services faces the prospect of legislative changes and possible funding cuts.
The agency is in the midst of public hearings about its handling of cases involving three Tucson children who allegedly were killed by their parents.
Legislators want to hold a hearing in December on how CPS handled the case of 5-year-old Brandon Williams, an autistic boy who was killed in March, allegedly by his mother and a friend. That follows a September hearing on how the agency handled the case of 4-year-old Ariana Payne and her 5-year-old brother, Tyler, who were killed last year, allegedly by their father and his girlfriend.
Some of the legislative changes under consideration would make CPS case records more open, allow CPS workers to file missing persons reports, give them greater access to criminal history records and open state employee records to the public in the same way as municipal and county employee records.
But with the state roughly a billion dollars in the red, there is also the prospect that the beleaguered agency will take a funding hit, even as it tries to meet public expectations for improvement.
"The governor has indicated it is her intent to hold children's services harmless from the majority of the reductions that would have to occur in agencies to meet the budget deficit," said Ken Deibert, deputy director of the Department of Economic Security, which oversees CPS.
"Any significant budget cuts for our services would certainly have some very concerning repercussions," Diebert said.
State Rep. Jonathan Paton, a Tucson Republican who has taken the lead in the legislative hearings on CPS, said he expects cuts across all state agencies, but he does not want to see a reduction in CPS workers.
"I don't necessarily think things are going to be improved if you lose more caseworkers," Paton said.
Low morale, high turnover
Against that backdrop of controversy and scrutiny, CPS workers continue to push on, handling roughly 35,000 reports a year.
For workers in Pima County, the year has been marked by high turnover and low morale, said Ilene Stern, a program supervisor and investigator.
"Morale is … seriously affected by workload, by media, by criticisms, by high turnover," she said. "It hasn't been good for a while."
Stern mostly handles reports involving children who have been placed with relatives or in foster care. She also oversees an investigator in Ajo and picks up reports on the side, partly because of staffing shortages.
CPS currently has 13 openings in Pima County.
"There are very few of us here for more than five years," Stern said. "I'm here 17 and a half, and I will retire here."
In that time the agency has evolved. Workers have less family contact and more case management, she said. Methamphetamine is prevalent in many cases. There is also an emphasis on in-home services, essentially referrals to family services such as counseling and parenting classes, as a way to keep children with families.
This emphasis on family is also seen in the agency's push for workers to take a more global approach to investigations, essentially looking beyond the black-and-white world of allegations to see what services or needs a family might require.
A recent independent review of the agency's handling of the Payne and Williams cases faulted CPS workers for being too focused on whether the allegations were true rather than the broader family situations and risks that existed.
To encourage a shift in philosophy, the agency has adopted a new assessment tool, which some workers have criticized because of its length. A sample version is roughly 80 pages.
Stern was diplomatic about the new tool, saying that while it took more time to fill out, the fieldwork didn't change, or at least it shouldn't.
"Your face-to-face time shouldn't be affected by your documentation," she said.
In her own handling of cases, Stern adopted this broader investigative approach.
The ride-along
On a warm, late October morning she treks out to White Elementary School on Tucson's far Southwest Side to investigate a report from the school of a young boy with a cut on his ear. Reportedly his father shot him with a disc gun, a small toy gun that fires plastic discs.
Stern interviews the boy about the cut, as well as his two older brothers, who are also students at the school. Her focus, however, quickly shifts from the cut, which is fairly small and clearly accidental, to concerns about a gun in the home and the employment situations of the parents.
After about an hour and a half interviewing the three children separately, she heads to the parents' house.
Neither parent is working full time. The mother goes to beauty school. The father works construction jobs but has been staying home to watch their young daughter. Stern gives them a referral for day-care services, which would allow the father to work more.
"They were very cooperative," she said. "This job is often sorting through who is pointing the finger at who. Part of my job is to put that information together."
In the public eye
There is no doubt public pressure about the handling of the Payne and Williams cases affected morale at the agency.
During the ride-along, Stern remarked that the Arizona Daily Star's coverage of the cases did not reflect the personal side of the work, or the workers.
And this summer, after the Star ran an article quoting state Rep. Steve Farley — a Tucson Democrat who took a ride-along with a CPS worker and has been supportive of the agency — a number of CPS workers forwarded the article by e-mail, commenting on how they had found a supporter.
"So often we only get the very negative media, and while some of that is included here, we now have someone supporting us," wrote Karin Kline of the DES public information office.
Lillian Downing, who heads CPS in Pima County, remarked via e-mail that perhaps the comments from Farley would help "turn the tide."
But Paton said the public scrutiny has brought about some needed changes to the agency, notably the requirements for workers to check court records and not to date clients or former clients — policy changes that he hopes to make law.
"You can see the results of an agency that's kind of been hidden away, and there have been some really bad things that happened," he said. "At the end of the day you see that because of the public's attention on what's going on, that scrutiny ultimately led to changes that they've made in their policies."

● Contact reporter Josh Brodesky at 807-7789 or [email protected].


Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Mon Dec 31, 2007 5:31 pm


Tucson Region

Wider CPS powers sought to protect kids

By Daniel Scarpinato
arizona daily star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 12.20.2007


Police should be allowed to temporarily detain children whose parents are under investigation by Child Protective Services if the children are considered at risk and the family is missing, CPS officials recommended Wednesday.
The suggestion came during a three-hour legislative hearing at the Capitol, with officials saying such a policy could allow CPS to better track the 400 to 700 children who go missing under the agency's watch each year.
And with legislators holding the hearings in response to the death of 5-year-old Brandon Williams — who died in Tucson last March while his mother, Diane Marsh, was being investigated by CPS — officials said CPS would have a better mechanism for finding parents who are ignoring their inquiries.
"We are limited in our ability to be proactive," said Ken Deibert, deputy director of the Department of Economic Security, which oversees CPS.
Deibert and other officials said CPS has a hard time locating missing families — as was the case with Brandon — because their authority is much more limited than that of law enforcement officials.
To address that, Deibert suggested linking CPS case records with police records. If CPS were seeking a missing family, the parent would be listed in a police database as a "person of interest."
If authorities came into contact with the family for any reason — for example, a traffic stop for speeding — their name would come up in the database, alerting law enforcement that CPS is looking for the family. Police could then detain the children at the scene and alert CPS officials, who would have time to respond and check on the children.
Legislators, some of whom supported the concept, admitted such a policy will face resistance in the Legislature — where there is debate over whether CPS should make its priority keeping families together or taking children out.
"The bill, at the end of the day, has got to be constitutional," said state Rep. Jonathan Paton, a Tucson Republican who says he supports such a move. "It's not like they're put into a jail cell for a period of time. It's more like they stand there on the side of the road until CPS comes."
But state Sen. Karen Johnson, a Mesa Republican who is critical of some governmental regulations, called the plan "Big Brother."
"I think that just goes beyond the pale," Johnson said. "Sometimes a family is harassed by CPS and they just want to get up and leave."
Paton said it would only be in cases "in which we were seriously concerned" that the lives of the children were in imminent danger. But Johnson said if that were the case, CPS should be able to seek custody through the courts.
Wednesday's hearing was the second probe into CPS policy by the House Committee on Government.
In September, officials testified that CPS made a mistake when it closed its investigation into the mother of Ariana and Tyler Payne, two other Tucson children who are believed to have died while under the agency's watch.
In the Brandon Williams case, lawmakers are alarmed that despite reports in fall 2006 indicating CPS investigators and the Attorney General's Office had concerns about Marsh's ability to care for her son, Brandon remained in the home because CPS officials say they didn't have enough evidence or authority to seek a removal.
The mother and son later disappeared. With CPS unable to locate the family, or even file a missing-persons report, police didn't find the family until March.
A week later, Brandon was rushed to the hospital, where he died. Marsh and her roommate, Flower Tompson, are charged with murder.
"I find it very disappointing on a personal level … that the government of Arizona failed this child," said state Rep. Kirk Adams, the committee's chairman and a Mesa Republican.
CPS officials maintained that they did everything in their power to locate the mother. And despite records stating that "removal may be necessary" and that Marsh had "erratic and evasive behavior" that threatened Brandon, CPS officials did not feel that they had enough evidence to remove him from the home before he and Marsh disappeared.

● Contact reporter Daniel Scarpinato at 307-4339 or [email protected].


Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Sat Mar 22, 2008 9:46 pm


Tucson Region
House OKs bill to open CPS files if child dies or is in near-fatality
By Daniel Scarpinato
arizona daily star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 03.20.2008
advertisementPHOENIX — Months after the Tucson deaths that prompted it, an effort to require Child Protective Services to open up fil es on children who have died won bipartisan approval Wednesday in the Arizona House.
The vote followed extensive floor debate and early opposition. But the bill eventually passed 47-12. To become law, it still needs approval from the Senate and the governor, and it may continue to undergo change.
The bill, which attempts to make records public in the event of a fatality or near-fatality, is viewed by supporters as the linchpin in a series of changes governing CPS, a state agency. But it has also been the most controversial part of an overhaul effort prompted by the deaths of three Tucson children. In those cases, it took a lawsuit by the Arizona Daily Star for the agency to release its records.
After holding the bill for more than a week, Rep. Jonathan Paton, R-Tucson, agreed to language changes to clearly state that CPS can redact the names of third-party individuals to protect their privacy.
The bill says that if a county attorney believes making the information public would damage a case, CPS has the option of agreeing — or if it disagrees, going before a judge. And if CPS doesn't go to a judge, anyone else can.
The burden of proof is on the county attorney to show why the information should be withheld, because it is presumed to be open under the bill, unlike the current practice. "Reform can't happen when you can't see what the problems are, and this agency has been veiled in secrecy too long," Paton said.
During debate on the House floor, some lawmakers argued that the bill would create an adversarial relationship between county attorneys and CPS, and on an initial vote, most Democrats stood in opposition.
Rep. Pete Hershberger, R-Tucson, agreed, saying, "CPS is ill-equipped to deal with criminal issues with the county attorney." But Hershberger later voted for the bill, saying he hopes Paton will work the issues out.
On the final vote, seven Southern Arizona lawmakers, all Democrats, voted against the bill: Manuel Alvarez, David Bradley, Olivia Cajero Bedford, Phil Lopes, Linda Lopez, Tom Prezelski and Nancy Young Wright.
An early critic of the rule-change attempt, Rep. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, praised Paton for his efforts Wednesday and said that opening records might help CPS avoid criticism.
"CPS is going to get bashed even more if they're seen as hiding information," he said.
Farley joined Republicans Paton, Hershberger, Marian McClure and Jennifer Burns in supporting the measure. Although Southern Arizona Democrats opposed the bill, other House Democrats crossed over to support it.
Others, such as Rep. Pete Rios, D-Hayden, said they were against the idea of making the CPS information public altogether.
"You don't know what you're opening up when you're opening CPS records," Rios said. "I don't want to re-victimize the victim."
The House also approved a number of other policy changes to CPS. They include:
● Requiring CPS to report a missing child to law enforcement authorities, with the information to be entered into a national database.
● Requiring that all court proceedings involving termination of parental rights and making children dependents of the state will be presumed to be open.
● Requiring CPS workers to promptly obtain and abide by court orders that restrict or deny custody, contact or visitation by a parent or other person in the home with the child.
● Opening the personnel records of CPS workers and other state employees.
● Contact reporter Daniel Scarpinato at 307-4339 or [email protected].


Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Fri Jun 27, 2008 9:20 pm


The mother of Ariana Payne is filing a lawsuit. The articles are posted above. This is posted recently under the section on lawsuits.

There have been numerous news articles on this topic of child welfare legislation in recent months but I waited until the bill cleared the legislature and was signed before posting it.. ... e0625.html

Napolitano signs bill allowing access to child-welfare cases

Amanda J. Crawford - Jun. 25, 2008 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

The governor signed into law Tuesday a package of bills that will give the public and the media unprecedented access to records in child-welfare cases and state employee files.

The bills were crafted in the wake of legislative hearings on the deaths of three Tucson children involved with the state's Child Protective Services agency. The new laws make

some court proceedings,
CPS case records and
employee disciplinary records

available to the public. Another bill changes some joint investigation protocols between CPS and prosecutors.



Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Wed Oct 08, 2008 7:48 pm ... o&psp=news

CPS Uses P.D. To Find Abused Baby

POSTED: 8:46 am MST October 5, 2008

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Utilizing a new law, Arizona Child Protective Services used the services of Tucson police to locate a baby suspected of being abused by its mother, authorities said.

Under newly amended Arizona child welfare laws, the child welfare agency must contact local law enforcement officers to help locate children believed to be at risk of serious harm. It must report endangered children as missing persons.

Police detectives found the family and the 17-day-old girl in three days, police said.

Catina D. Smith, 32, was charged with felony child abuse after the baby was found to have a skull fracture, police said.

On Sept. 5, witnesses told police they saw Smith drop the baby on the floor inside a Tucson Wal-Mart.

Smith left the store and boarded a city bus with the baby and her 4-year-old son before police arrived, said Sgt. Fabian Pacheco, a Tucson police spokesman.

Officers found the bus and contacted Smith. The children were turned over to their father and Smith was taken to a hospital for evaluation. CPS tried to follow up but was unable to locate the family and contacted police to report the child was missing.

Tucson police Sex Offender Registration Tracking team and Dependent Child Unit detectives found the woman, the boy and the baby in three days.

Authorities booked Smith into the Pima County Jail on Sept. 24 and released her the same day to Pima County Pretrial Services.

The changes to state law were sought after CPS failed to locate Brandon Williams, 5; and Ariana and Tyler Payne, who were 4 and 5.

All three Tucson children are believed to have been killed by their parents, who were involved in cases with Child Protective Services.

Posts: 5496
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Sun Oct 12, 2008 9:52 pm

Published: 09.19.2008
Penny and Randall West

Judge tosses child abuse convictions of foster parents

Death of Emily Mays, 16 months
Tucson Citizen

Pima County Superior Court Judge John S. Leonardo has acquitted Penny and Randall West on charges of child abuse in the death of a foster child.

Leonardo said in his ruling Friday that prosecutors didn't present evidence to the jury that pinpointed the time of death of 16-month-old Emily Mays.

Penny West, 40, and Randall West, 41, were accused of "knowingly and intentionally" causing a severe head injury that killed the toddler.

A Pima County Superior Court jury Aug. 1 found Penny West guilty of a lesser charge of negligently committing child abuse under circumstances likely to cause death or serious injury.

The jury found Randall West guilty of an even lesser charge of recklessly committing child abuse under circumstances not likely to cause death or serious injury.

"The West family believes justice has been served," said Assistant Public Defender Howard Wine, who represented Randall West. "They think this was a misguided prosecution from the beginning."

Wine said while the family celebrates the acquittals, "Emily Mays is not far from their thoughts. She was their beloved foster child."
Prosecutors theorized after the verdict that Randall West injured Emily on Aug. 23, 2005, and Penny West discovered the injury the next morning, Leonardo wrote.

Prosecutors said both Wests delayed getting help for the girl, who died on Aug. 24 of a severe head injury. They said the delay proved the Wests endangered Emily's health and supports the jury's verdicts.

"It should be noted that this theory of the case was more refined and more detailed than that presented to the jury at trial," Leonardo wrote.

Deputy County Attorney Susan Eazer didn't return a call seeking comment Friday.

However, Leonardo wrote, neither doctor who testified for the state said they believed the injury was caused the night before Emily died.

Prosecutors said a flurry of phone calls between the Wests on the morning of Aug. 24 were about Emily's condition. Leonardo said that "invite(s) impermissible speculation."

"None of the evidence presented by the state ... nor the reasonable inferences which could be drawn from that evidence, provides substantial evidence upon which a reasonable jury could have found either defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt," Leonardo wrote.

When judges believe there isn't enough evidence to support a conviction, they are required to acquit the defendant, Leonardo wrote.

After studying the trial records, pleadings and arguments presented after the trial, Leonardo concluded that the evidence in this case was insufficient and warranted acquittals, he wrote.
Penny West faced one year to 3.75 years in prison; Randall West faced six months to 2 1/2 years in prison.

The Wests were raising their three children - ages 17, 10 and 7 - when Emily and her 1-month-old and 4-year-old sisters were placed in their home by state Child Protective Services.
Emily and her siblings were taken from their mother, Katherine L. Mays, when the newborn was found to have methamphetamine in her system, records show.

Katherine Mays, 36, is serving two concurrent five-year prison sentences, having been convicted for two drug offenses.
Mays has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Wests, CPS and agency officials, court records show.

Return to “In the News”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests