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February 5, 2013

Host: Ted Simons

Child Welfare Reform

  |   Video
  • Maricopa County and its court system have come up with a new plan to deal with infants and toddlers who go through the child welfare system. The new system strives to help the parents of infants and toddlers with parenting skills and make sure that the babies receive the care they need. Judge Aimee Anderson will discuss the new “Cradle 2 Crayons Child Welfare Center.”
  • Aimee Anderson - Judge
Category: Medical/Health   |   Keywords: children, welfare, reform, child, medical, health, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Maricopa county's juvenile court system is working with cps and mental health care partners to improve the welfare of infants and toddlers and the county's child welfare system. The result is cradles to crayons, a program that expedites case processing and mandates that each child's needs are assessed and treated. And here to talk about cradles to crayons or c2c is maricopa county juvenile Justice judge Aimee Anderson. Good to have you here and thanks for joining us.

Aimee Anderson: Thank you for having me.

Ted Simons: Is cradles to crayon a program and a center?

Aimee Anderson: It is, actually, the name for our baby courts within our juvenile court here in maricopa county. And it is the name of a child welfare center that we have started here in maricopa county. So it's a judicial program, and it's a child welfare center.

Ted Simons: I have heard this program and the welfare center, if you will, revolutionized the, the care and the wellbeing of infants and toddlers, true?

Aimee Anderson: I would like to think so. Yes, it has. Well, we started in July of 2011, and knowing a couple of things. That infants and toddlers throughout the world are the most vulnerable population in the child welfare systems. We also knew that the rates of incoming dependency cases continue to escalate. The numbers keep doubling every year. And we need to do a better job as a community to address the needs of this vulnerable population and get them permanency. So, in July of 2011, here in maricopa county, we started the cradle to crayon program within the court system. And that started with, with the judicial leadership.

Ted Simons: And the problems, babies were winding up in a lot of different homes, emotional needs, nurturing needs were untreated. And it sounds like there was, and probably still is, a problem of lack of parental bonding.

Aimee Anderson: Correct. Most of the parents who come into the child welfare system didn't have very good role models themselves. And so, the services that have typically been in place were parent AIDS to supervised visitation. They might be able to supervise your visit with your child or my visit with mine. But, for parents who didn't have good role model, just supervising a visit with a child is not enough. They need to have that coaching, and instruction along the way to have healthy interactions with their children.

Ted Simons: And so, and again the many different homes, aspect of bouncing a baby, that's not a good thing, either.

Aimee Anderson: No, and the research is clear that the more moves that child has, especially in the early developmental years of their life, are damaging to the children. And so, if we can do better job as a system to identify good, secure, and homes for these children, whether it's with a relative or a close family friend, for a good, secure foster placement, who would be there if the case for unification is not possible to provide that forever home?

Ted Simons: And the changes include a faster case processing as I mentioned, and each child assessed and treated. These don't sound like revolutionary changes. Was it not happening before?

Aimee Anderson: It was not as far as good, solid, meaningful screenings, assessments, referrals and treatment for care. And I'm going tell, this has taken a whole community to come together. Child protective services, maricopa county, the board of supervisors, our behavioral health systems, these are not folks that you hear coming together. Everybody has come together, and because we have all been learning more about the needs of the population and getting these assessments done up front and getting them into appropriate treatment.

Ted Simons: And it sounds like judges now working direct with case workers and providers? Was that happening before?

Aimee Anderson: We would see them but not often enough, and that's where the court really needed to step up and take the, the lead here, and push. And I'm going to tell, ip pushed parents, I pushed case managers, and every day. And to get better outcomes. So, instead of seeing these families, with, within every six months, we're seeing these families every six to eight weeks. So, we ensure that the services that are being identified are put in place. And then we do our, our, with the parents, saying it is your responsibility to follow up and engage in these services because that, that clock is ticking, which is the critical aspect of the population of children.

Ted Simons: In order to get to these people the judges need training, as well, correct?

Aimee Anderson: Correct. That's one of the areas that we are really working on with other jurisdictions. A number of us just came back from an international mall treatment conference to learn more about the long-term effects of mall treatment. Infant mental health, and learning the specialized needs of the population, why that brain is developing because if we don't do a good job on the front end, these children will not be able to have healthy, secure bonds with appropriate caregivers, so then, it really minimizes their ability to have that appropriate long-term bond with the caregiver.

Ted Simons: And the appropriate long-term bond, the forever family, whether it's the parental family or a foster care family or something else, I mean, there is a concern, is there a concern that there might be a rush to permanency here, that you might get the family back together and they don't need to be back together?

Aimee Anderson: Well, there is a law that, that mandates that we look at permanency for children under the age of three, which is the population we focus on. But, in order to be involved in cradle to crayons, at least one child of that group must be under the age of three. And the law requires us to look at permanency within six months. So, if we have the right services in place for the parents, and they are engaging, we'll give them that time to make the improvement that is they need to be successfully reunified, but if they are not engaging in services and they are not making those behavioral changes, we have to follow the law, that's what we are hired to do as jurists. So we have concurrent planning on every one of our cases, and as I explained that to the parents and the department because sometimes they need to be reminded, concurrent means that, which means family reunification and severance and adoption so we're going to make sure that these families get all of the services that they need to have the best chance of a successful reunification, about if they are not doing what they need to, then that case plan falls away and we continue on with the severance and adoption.

Ted Simons: Is it difficult at times to figure out if the parents are doing what they want to do because I read about the center, it's an encouraging environment. It's the environment that is probably very different from where some of these parents come from, but they are, their learning skills, they are learning skills they may have never had, but in an area that's not the same as home. How do you work that balance?

Aimee Anderson: Well, the services at the cradle to crayons child welfare center are supplemental services, to what are already put in place for the families through child protective services. And so, they may have a parent aid, supervised visitation in their home with the parent aid, but this would be additional services for, for parent, child psychotherapy, or a parent who suffers from a significant drug, drug problem, having them participate in our treatment courts where they have weekly hearings and counseling sessions working on those services. And so, some of the services are going on in the cradle to crayons child welfare center, but that is in addition to the services that cps is putting in place. When it's appropriate and safe, to have those visitations in that home environment, that's where it's taking place.

Ted Simons: What do you see as far as results especially with that aspect of the parental bonding and getting those skills together?

Aimee Anderson: It is absolutely remarkable to have the families come back and, and tell us in court how helpful this is, this has been, how they feel supported, and how making the connection with these additional providers, is giving them the encouragement that they need. And it is also incredible to see for those cases because they are out there, the abandonment cases, a typical abandonment case, that child could have been in foster care for years before the case was, actually, built up and legally ready and went through the system. We, in those cases we have these children legally free. And adopted, in the same place element that took that child home from the hospital. And so, to have forever families, whether it's with the family origin or another family, we're seeing it sooner, and safer because those additional services are in place.

Ted Simons: We have 30 seconds left. What's next for c2c?

Aimee Anderson: We are -- we just added a new cradle to crayons judge at our Durango facilities. The numbers are going up to we're adding new divisions. We are hoping to roll out additional services similar to what we have at Durango, and the east valley. And we do have an open husband this Friday at our cradle to crayons child welfare center from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Ted Simons: Located at?

Aimee Anderson: 3445 west Durango.

Ted Simons: All right. And great information. Congratulations. It sounds like a success and continued success.

Aimee Anderson: Thank you, we're very excited about this.

Election System Reform

  |   Video
  • Several bills have been introduced to reform Arizona’s election system. Senator Michele Reagan and Representative Chad Campbell will discuss their bills.
  • Michele Reagan - Senator
  • Chad Campbell - Representative
Category: Law   |   Keywords: election, reform, system, law, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Arizona's voter rolls are up 3% since October. The Secretary of State's office reports that there are now 3.2 million Arizonans registered to vote. 35% are Republicans and 33% are independents and 30% are Democrats. Those registered voters will soon find a different elections landscape and several, if several bills find success, the bills would change campaign finance rules, recall elections and the state's initiative signature-gathering process. Heat now to talk about their ideas are Senator Michele Reagan and house Minority Leader Chad Campbell. Good to have here and thanks for joining us.

Michele Reagan: Thank you for having us.

Ted Simons: There is a lot to go through here. Let's get right into it. The increased reporting on gifts. This one got a lot of high profile with the fiesta bowl scandal and that sort of thing. What are you looking at here?

Michele Reagan: What we're looking at doing is putting more transparency sunlight into the interaction between elected officials and lobbyists. And allowing the public to have access to that information. And hopefully in more of a real-time fashion than the yearly reports where there is, there is really not a lot of detail, and not any ability to cross-check. Between what the lobbyists say and what the elected official says and, and there is a lot of different ideas and a lot of proposals, but I think that what's most important in this one particular bill, and in particular, is closing the loophole, and that, that didn't allow the, our county attorney bill Montgomery to prosecute some of the fiesta bowl offenses.

Ted Simons: What was that loophole?

Michele Reagan: The loophole was, actually, believe it or not, part of it is that the definition of gifts is different in two sections of will you, so you could be following one part of the statute, and correct but in another part, you are out of compliance, and tightening that up and also, saying that, that making it very clear that, that, you know, we have an entertainment ban already in our state. And but there is exceptions to that entertainment ban, and what my bill says is if you invoke one of those exceptions, additional reporting is trigger. And that would have closed the fiesta bowl loophole. Not just from the elected official's side but from the fiesta bowl side, as well, they should have been reporting, as well.

Ted Simons: What do you think? It sounds like you want to just ban all gifts to lawmakers period.

Chad Campbell: Yeah. And I have a bill out there to ban gifts from lobbyists, and I think that that's the cleanest approach, now, I applaud the Senator for taking the steps that she is taking, and I think that that's step in the right direction. But, we talk about more reporting requirements, as well, in the bill we introduced but, I think that the cleanest cut way is ban the gifts outright, and if you are getting gifts, if you are getting a compensation, whatever it may be, from a non lobbyist, make sure that it's a more timely reporting mechanism, more easier for the public to follow.

Ted Simons: And what constitute, though, a gift?

Chad Campbell: You have to define what a gift is, and we just made sure that it was anything from the lobbyists considered a gift. And we have to scale that back, a cup of coffee is not a gift, and I think that there is common sense conversations that we can have around what define as gift, and I think that once we define what it is, you know, let's ban anything that the public views as a substantive handout.

Ted Simons: Attending a conference. Attending an educational event, these things. Gifts?

Chad Campbell: If it's from a lobbyist I would say yes, and we have ways to deal with that, and we have constituent service accounts that we can set up and raise money like we have a campaign finance account, and you can use that for attendance, and you can still get travel arranged by non lobbyist organizations, educational trips, so I think that yes, any type of travel from a lobbyist should be ban.

Ted Simons: And does that sound viable to you?

Michele Reagan: It sounds great in theory. And I am certainly open to discussing any type of, of -- you know, any suggestions, welcomed. When you use the word, all-out ban, it's very scary to me. And in looking at other states that have done it, it has been a disaster, and let me give one example. Colorado, I believe, tried this, no gifts. The public loves it. However, lawmakers who had children who are attending college getting ready to go to college and applying for scholarships, there was a question on whether their children, let's say a child really got the scholarship on his or her merit, whether that would constitute as a gift because that's, that's state money. And so, it became such a mess in some of the states that have tried it. Let's be really careful what sounds good, and may not always work out. For instance, I will also say that you and I participated in the American young political leaders. A Great experience, I would not take that away from or from myself for anything. It was very expensive, what they did for us.

Chad Campbell: I agree.

Michele Reagan: And be careful, we need to be careful that those things are not -- that was such a, a, that was such an enlightening program.

Chad Campbell: And you have to define it as, you know, anybody that's involved in the directed lobbying, just kind of cut that off right there, and then you can define further from that point, but just to be safe, I think that gifts should be banned, and that's what, you know, we're striving for. Will it happen? I don't know.

Michele Reagan: I would like to mention, one thing, that I think is really important and overriding of all the election bills we're seeing from both Republicans and Democrats, and that is the thought of transparency and giving public, the information. I really believe that the public is smart enough to decide for themselves what is appropriate and what isn't, but they have to have that information. And so, if we are not able to do a gift ban of which, by the way, we have one in the state, it's $10, and anything over that is already prohibited so, you know, but give them the information, what interaction are we having with lobbyists, and they can decide if it's acceptable?

Ted Simons: Another bill here, regards, more time between submitting signatures and printing the ballot, what is this all about?

Michele Reagan: This is, what this is about is, is, Arizona is, has obviously grown in population and in voter registration, as you pointed out, and good news, this has come from the, the county recorders and the election officials, and they would like more time between when all of those signatures and petitions are submitted, and when the actual ballot being printed. And what we saw in this last election, and we have seen it before, is this rush to court and, and you, actually, literally have a judge saying that I have four hours to decide this because the ballot is being printed. And I don't think that is, I don't think that that's fair to citizens who, who, they sign these petitions, they want this, this on their ballot, and yet, our elections decisions are coming down to, to a window, and judges and attorneys deciding that for us. And this spreads that time out to give that, that process a little more time before the ballot printing.

Ted Simons: Makes sense to you?

Chad Campbell: It does, with one, one caveat to that, and I haven't seen this because, the Senate hasn't had to come over to the house, my only bill, I don't have a problem with moving the date back, as long as make sure that you are moving when you can start collecting signatures. Back accordingly, my only concern is do not compress the time frame that you allow signature gatherers to get signatures. It's hard enough to get something on the ballot as it is with the process. And so, let's make sure that you are giving those people out there that are volunteering their time to get signatures enough time.

Michele Reagan: I would agree with that.

Ted Simons: Ok. Another one of your ideas is involving provisionals and, you don't need one if you want to vote. This is an interesting thing. It confuses a lot of people. We have the recorder here, and every year, every election cycle, makes it clear, people are still bringing them. Talk to us about this.

Michele Reagan: And more ever the last election than before, and there are several things that, ways to address it, that don't need to be done legislatively, which is great, and more education to the voters of actually what, when they are signing onto that, that permanent ballot list, that what does that mean? And you are on service Arizona website and you check the box and you register to vote and it says, do you want a permanent, or people are checking the box and not really understanding, that means they are going to get their ballots by the mail. And they probably shouldn't go to the polls then, as well. It's an either-or, and but, then also, allowing the county recorders to percentage the list of people who don't want to be on that early ballot list and, and an example, you are moving, and, and the only way to get off of it right now, is in writing. Well, it's probably the last thing on the mind, I have got to call the county recorder and get myself off that ballot list. Come on, and they need to have the ability to, to judiciously make those decisions, you know. We don't want them, them crossing people that want to be on it but there is a lot of people that don't want to be on it, and that somehow find themselves on it.

Chad Campbell: There is a big concern for us. And I think that it will be a big concern for the department of Justice to be honest with you. The association of counties is promoting an idea that if you miss an election cycle, you don't vote in a primary or a general, general election, then you get notice from the county you live in, and if you don't respond within a month or so to that notice, they are going to wipe you off the permanent early voting list. This is incredibly problematic. You are punishing a voter who forgot to vote one time and I want to point out this is called the permanent early voting list, not the temporarily early voting list, or oops, I forgot, it is the permanent early voting list for a reason. And to me, I understand what the counties are saying, well, to save us money, and but the bottom line is, voters, voter suppression is never a way to save money. I think that the department of Justice will have a very big problem with this bill. And I think that, that a lot of your minority communities out there will have a big problem. We cannot kick people off the voting list because they forgot to vote in one election.

Michele Reagan: We got, just today, about 20 minutes ago we ended, the first elections committee meeting in the Senate, and we had a, we had a great discussion and there was community activists, people that work the ground and know elections inside and out who brought that up. And we have identified already three changes that need to be made to that particular bill. And I think that it's important to point out that, that what we're putting out there as options, at least in my mind, they are not cut in stone, they are not -- they are open for input, and not only that, but people had great ideas today, and those will be, incorporated in it. And it might not still something that you can support, but, the goal is not to disenfranchise people or take away something so important as their right to vote, and to vote the way that they want to. But, we need to also be able to live with, within the times, and you have people on list that don't want to be on it. How do you get them off? It's a balancing act. Chad makes a good point.

Ted Simons: Before we go from the democratic side, there are moves to disclose annually who paid for trips, and talking like dollars and cents, and also, an independent ethics commission, these kind of things. I wonder what the word independent means and how far that goes.

Chad Campbell: Well, again, yeah, you know, the devil is in the details but the point of the bill, and this is not my bill, but the point of the bill is to try to add another layer of accountability to the process, and if we think that somebody has violated the campaign finance laws of some kind, you can then send them to this independent ethics board commission, whatever to look into it further. If they find probable cause, for any further investigation or any legal types, they will send it to the proper authorities, and what we're trying to do, though, is just add another layer of accountability to our public process of campaign finance laws in the state, and election. I think the public deserves that.

Ted Simons: Real Quickly, did I see one of your ideas is to keep the elect officials who deal with elections from campaigning for others?

Michele Reagan: That's, actually, Senator's bill and I co-sponsored that with him. I really believe that if you are in certain positions like if you are a judge, my father is a J.P., he cannot be on any of my invites or house committees and I think that apply to certain people who monitoring our stated's elections.

Chad Campbell: And it's something in that I called for last year after Ken Bennett came out in favor of Romney and talked about kicking the President off the ballot. Something I called for at that time, and I applaud that idea, and I think --

Michele Reagan: Let me be clear there is not against Mr. Bennett because he, in 2010, actually brought this idea forward and said this was something that he supported so I stole it from him. And it is just a good idea.

Ted Simons: A good idea. What better way to say it. Good to have you both here and thanks for joining us.

Michele Reagan: Thank you.