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February 3, 2014

Host: Ted Simons

CARE Team Report

  |   Video
  • The CARE Team, formed by Governor Jan Brewer to look into uninvestigated child abuse cases, has issued its report. The 50-page report reveals that understaffing and lack of training led to the uninvestigated cases. Charles Flanagan, director of the new Child Safety and Family Services agency and head of the CARE Team, will discuss the report.
  • Charles Flanagan - Director, Child Safety and Family Services agency and CARE Team
Category: Government   |   Keywords: government, child, protective, safety, family, arizona, CARE, team, report,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The care team is a group charged by the governor's office to look into uninvestigated child abuse cases. The team released its findings late Friday in a 50 page report that describes a, quote, systemic failure at child protective services, or CPS. Charles Flanagan head of the care team and director of the new child safety and family services agency is here to discuss the report. Good to see you again. Thank you so much for joining us.

Charles Flanagan: Thank you for having me.

Ted Simons: Systemic failure at was once CPS. Explain, please.

Charles Flanagan: As you know, the governor became aware that after attempts to address issues at CPS, that there was a much bigger problem when Greg McKay, who is the chief of the office of child welfare investigations, that she created, along with the legislature discovered so many not investigated cases. Which is contrary to law and policy. So as a result of that, she created the DPS administrative investigation directive, she then also created the CARE team, which as you know from my being on the show earlier, was to not only investigate those cases, but identify the persons, the personnel, the programs and the policies that created the N.I. situation and that were problematic for the operation of CPS. What we discovered was that virtually nobody was following policy or statute, that there was nothing codified in policy that supported it, that it was basically decided by at this point my knowledge is a small group of people who are in a position of authority in CPS. And that it began to grow and grow and grow to the point where we had 6,554, cases that we identified. Beyond that, there were no internal checks and balances that were appropriate to the situation. So the people that were doing what they called Q.A., were the same people who decided that N.I. was a good thing to do, which doesn't even make sense, because N.I. was counter productive in many respects. And then the checks and balances had no ability to identify a problem because they were all deeply engaged in this practice.

Ted Simons: Basically investigating yourselves in other words.

Charles Flanagan: Correct.

Ted Simons: That lack of accountability, which was outlined in the report, there was an accountability system in place, or was that accountability system in place flawed by its nature?

Charles Flanagan: I did not see evidence of an accountability system. That is not to say there isn't an accountability system just simply one that I didn't see as we looked at the process that was in place at the former division, and then CPS itself.

Ted Simons: They weren't necessarily ignoring a system, as far as you could tell, there was just no accountability there.

Charles Flanagan: That's correct.

Ted Simons: Lack of transparency was also mentioned in the report. What kind of information are we talking about here that wasn't transparent?

Charles Flanagan: So here's what's interesting. CPS produced lots of reports as is required. Those reports were based upon the information that was entered into the child system, which the governor's identified as a big problem, and needs to be addressed, and has in her budget, proposed changes so that we can in fact replace that system. The system itself is antiquated and flawed. I can tell you we had great difficulty getting information from the database that we could use in reporting on the care team. I was also told that I couldn't be reporting any of our outcomes, any of the work that we were doing, because typically CPS doesn't admit or DES doesn't admit there's even an investigation ongoing. Because of an interpretation of CAPTA, which is a federal act that implies to at least here in Arizona, people that we shouldn't be releasing any information, because it's protected. I disagree with that, and I know there are other states that disagree with that. And so it's really I believe absolutely important for us to have a system in place whereby we report what we're doing, we report our outcomes without betraying the confidence of the children involved, the families involved. So we can protect those identities, and still report information that will allow us then to be held accountable. How can you hold someone accountable when you don't know what they're doing and whether or not what they're doing is the right thing or not the right thing?

Ted Simons: Was that a misrepresentation of these privacy laws? Was it a willful use of these privacy laws as a shield? What are you seeing there?

Charles Flanagan: I can't really answer to the motivation behind this. I have not even yet met with the attorney general's office. I have one scheduled meeting scheduled with them shortly. But what I can tell you is that their interpretation is that we have to be circumspect on what we release, which I agree with. But it doesn't mean you should not release information. We should release information, and I've talked to colleagues in other states that believe, and we should be knocking on the door of the federal government by the way and asking them how they interpret it, but my colleagues in other states believe that it gives them the freedom to communicate information such as what I'm describing, so that you can in fact be open and transparent and Governor Brewer made it clear to me that in the CARE team process, and I know that that has been the case while I've been at ADJC, Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections, now at this new division she's created, that we have reported information and we can be held accountable for that information. And this new division of child safety and family services fully intends to be open, transparent, and be held accountable for what we do.

Ted Simons: Back to the report. Bad decision making is a quote here from the report. You mentioned the small group of folks you think had taken this N.I., not investigated, and it mushroomed from there. Was that decision -- Was it the result of negligence? Or these people incompetent? Is there a little bit of both? What was going on here?

Charles Flanagan: Let me lead in by saying the department of public safety investigation, the administrative investigation, is not yet complete. But I do know that now that I'm the director of this division that governor created, that report will come to me, I will review it and then I'll be in a position to take administrative disciplinary action. However, the logic that was given to me was that this process really began around a time when the economic downturn occurred. Somebody thought it would be a good idea, without anybody codifying this process, quite frankly, to remove reports from the flow back out into the field that were low priority. So, in other words, it would give the appearance as though that we were not as far behind as you might assume. The problem is, that it snowballs when you enter that process again, you went from 666 cases in 2009 to over 2,000 cases and then almost 3,000 cases in an incomplete fiscal year. So if you take a look at that decision making, it was flawed from a number of perspectives. First you are working counter to your argument that you need more resources if you hide the fact that you had 6,554 cases. We have a backlog now of cases that are low priority of over 10,000. I've heard that it's probably over 11,000 at this point, and if you add those 6,000 cases in, that's a stronger argument for the resources that you need. So it was counterproductive, it was a bad decision, and it was also not a decision that was supported by policy or law.

Ted Simons: Real quickly, the reason I asked that question, we've been talking about this on this program, you have a private company, and people make the kind of mistakes, the kind of negligence if you will we have seen in this report regarding people at CPS, it's like a bowling alley with all the heads rolling down the hallway. Heads aren't rolling so far. People want to know why.

Charles Flanagan: I think that's an excellent question, but let me remind everybody the governor took immediate and very strong action by creating an outside entity investigation, so DPS is investigating from outside, something they've done before. So that she has the information with which we can then make administrative decisions. So consider this for the moment -- Right now we don't know everybody that's involved in this. There are five people that Director Carter placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of this investigation. And it's a difficult investigation, because once you interview someone you end up with a couple of more interviews you have to do, based on my past experience, and then you have to go to the database. You have to go to the information to find out who did what when, where, why, and how. And that's a time consuming process. We want to get it right. We want to know exactly what happened, who made those decisions, so that we can in fact take the right action. And the action will be commensurate with the problem we discovered.

Ted Simons: Before you go, you've talked about accountability, about transparency, you've talked about proper decision making. Properly interpreting federal and state guidelines. We've heard some of this kind of thing before. We've -- CPS has been a problem forever. Why should our viewers hear you, listen to you and say, it's all going to change and it's all going to change for the better.

Charles Flanagan: So that's a really excellent question. Quite frankly, as the director of this new division, I'm the person that is responsible for what happens in this agency from this point forward. So I don't say lightly that we should be held accountable. It's what I've done all of my career and I intoned do it going forward. Put that aside, with all of the many years of problems, and this cycle of problem of a problem of problem that's occurred, who before has ever created action that has led to the potential for such significant change? I am absolutely amazed at the incredibly strategic and well thought-out and quite frankly exciting bold action the governor took by declaring that this division is separate from DES, that the director of this division reports to her as a cabinet level agency head would do, and then invited the legislature to take action to make this a separate department. But it doesn't stop there. She's not only talking the talk, she's also walking the walk. Her supplemental budget gets us started down the road of hiring the positions that are needed to fill the vacancies that -- Horrific 25 to 30 percent attrition rate of people coming in and leaving within months of coming in in many cases because of the crushing workload. But then again, in the next fiscal year to give us the resources we need to make these kind of changes. Secondarily, this agency now will be a much smaller entity than the big behemoth DHS. This will have a great deal of scrutiny from the governor, from the legislature, not that we're already not having that scrutiny, from the media, and from the public. And there should be that scrutiny. We should be questioning everything that happens. It is my intent that we will have policies that are compliant with law, and that we will have procedures that are compliant with policy, and we will inspect on that on an ongoing basis just as I have done in other agencies.

Ted Simons: All right. It's good to have you here. Thank you so much for joining us.

Charles Flanagan: Thank you.

Arizona State of Education

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  • Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal delivers his Arizona State of Education speech, Monday, February 3, and will discuss the status of our education system on Arizona Horizon.
  • John Huppenthal - Superintendent, Arizona Public Instruction
Category: Education   |   Keywords: education, teachers, school, system, speech, arizona,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal delivered his State of Education address earlier today. Superintendent Huppenthal joins us now to talk about education in Arizona. Good to see you again.

John Huppenthal: It's always great to be here.

Ted Simons: In general, a quick overview and then we'll dive into particular topics. The state of education in Arizona.

John Huppenthal: I think on a relative basis where we've been in history, it's very healthy in the sense that Arizona, unlike any other state, if you're an educated consumer you can find an excellent school for your child if you're willing to spend the time to would out and do some investigation.

OK. In your speech, you said over the past 30 years, our school systems have failed our youth. Choice has been around since early 90's, ’93?

John Huppenthal: '93.

Ted Simons: That's a long time for something to be around and yet over the last 30 years things aren't getting any better. Why is choice such a good thing when things aren't getting better?

John Huppenthal: My statement was talking about what's going on nationally. And I referenced the national assessment of educational progress. Go back to 1983, come forward to the 2011 results, flat as a pancake. We know the nation knows that our students are capable of much more than what they're getting out of the education system. That general sense has been driving society to say with more and more pressure we want things to be better. And so school choice is one of those ways. We know over the last decade that juvenile crime in Arizona has plummeted like a rock. There's not been near enough scholarship on that, but I look at students who have gone through six different choices of school before they find one, and find a school that works for them, and what I'm seeing is that school choice is working effectively with problem students. And I see that connection. All the demographers were predicting we'd go up in juvenile crime because more of our students are coming from minority and poverty backgrounds, but instead it plummeted down.

Ted Simons: The graduation rates in Arizona, where are we?

John Huppenthal: Right in the neighborhood of , 76-77 percent, which is healthy on an apples to apples basis, but still not where we need to be. When we look at graduation rates, we look at school districts like Peoria, where they've been using career planning, and they've driven their graduation rates into the 90s. We look at school districts like Chandler, where Camille Castile has really organized their school district in an amazing fashion and improved quality for a decade. And they're driving their rates up. So we know that our school districts with good leadership and good school boards are capable of more.

Ted Simons: Your address you say it's not enough to recognize the value of education, it is imperative also to invest in it. We are spending about $8,800 per student, national average about $12,000. Are we investing enough per student?

John Huppenthal: My feeling is that the legislature is driven by this intensity, OK, where is the correlation between money and outcome? There really hasn't been one. But I would argue to the legislature, we've created a climate in Arizona, if you don't create value for students and parents, then you're going to lose your students. And we need to start putting more money in there, and I think we can have confidence now that an extra dollar yields a substantial return on investment to the taxpayer.

Ted Simons: Is that confidence being translated to the legislature?

John Huppenthal: Well, you know, it's a pretty frugal group. I was pretty frugal when I was in there. But I think we need to up the intensity. This court decision is going to be helpful, that's bringing in a big chunk of money. That wasn't exactly voluntary, but the legislature is complying, and the governor is coming in with their success funding formula, and that's potentially another big chunk of change. We think that's very creative.

Ted Simons: Everything you do, I know you're big on data, big on information, and I know the computer system at the -- In your office is antiquated, to say the least. Are you going to get the resources, the funding to update all that stuff so we're living in the modern world here?

John Huppenthal: We brought in some phenomenal experts into the department, and we have great managers of those experts. We've done a lot with very limited resources already. But now we've been spending a lot of time with the governor's office, we're of one mind now that hey, we know we're capable of doing with $16 million what other states didn't get done for $250 million. So they put it in their budget, $16.5 million dollars, the governor's office, and our sense is, the legislature says, OK, you think you can get the job done? We think we're there.

Ted Simons: OK. Let's talk about college and career readiness standards. What was formerly known as Common Core. Why did you have to change that? Was that necessary to change that name?

John Huppenthal: Well, I think it was important for this reason -- There's standards, and then there's curriculum. And there are whole lot of curriculum that are labeled Common Core, that really a lot of members of the public find offensive. And it was -- So I didn't support that curriculum and it had that label, I wanted to come in and say, I support these math standards, these English language arts standards, these are solid standards, put those Common Core curriculum over there. I don't know about those.

Ted Simons: Again, the standards lead to a test and critics say the standards were created by federal government, not local officials, majority of teachers they say oppose these new standards. That -- That it prohibits cursive writing. There's a lot of stuff out there on this. And a lot of it is negative. Where is this coming from?

John Huppenthal: We poll our teachers, and we have very widespread support. It's not unanimous, there is a small chunk of teachers who are alienated, but they're also alienated from their jobs. So they’re opposed to these standards, but overwhelmingly our districts have embraced these standards, they've done a great job, they've selected curriculum that reflect values that their community supports. We are seeing among our better performing school districts they've embraced the standards.

Ted Simons: Has the legislature embraced the idea that to get these standards through, it may mean a little more money?

John Huppenthal: Well, I'm not sure we're quite there yet. But the legislature was told by the courts you have to kick in a chunk -- A pretty good healthy chunk of money. That is what's going to enable us to at least do the basics in getting this moved forward. The other thing we're finding out is some states got hundreds of millions of dollars to train teachers, we've used to train the trainer model, and our model has teachers come in from the districts and they take ownership and they go back and train their teachers. So in Arizona, teachers are doing this, and states with all these hundreds of millions of dollars like New York, it was being done to them at a high expense, and in New York, the teachers just came out in opposition to the standards, so we think sometimes you can turn frugality into an asset.

Ted Simons: Last question -- With your address obviously accentuate the positive, though you mentioned there was work to do.

John Huppenthal: Oh, yeah.

Ted Simons: What keeps Arizona from being known as the education state?

John Huppenthal: There's a couple things. Number one, the way that education statistics are maintained, we always talk around student outcomes. We have an enormous demographic challenge. Compared to the first day of kindergarten, Massachusetts is here, our students come in here. But we gain ground on Massachusetts over the course of the education career. That's the measure of the schools. Rand corporation did three studies in the 90's, $10 million apiece, and they found that Arizona schools had greater academic gains than Massachusetts schools. On an apples-to-apples basis. We need this new test to give us that data instantly at the end of the year. We should be able to compare our schools with all other schools across the nation, and we should never again be by ourselves with the test. That's one of the things we need with this new test, to compare our schools with other schools. It will produce an eye-opener for the nation.

Ted Simons: All right. Superintendent, it's good to have you here.

John Huppenthal: Great to be here. Thank you for inviting me.

AZ Giving and Leading: Phoenix Indian Center

  |   Video
  • Arizona is home to the nation’s first social service agency designed for urban American Indians. Nearly 70 years ago, the Phoenix Indian Center opened its doors in downtown. Today, the center serves about 7,000 people a year, offering a variety of services from workforce development and educational classes to cultural programs. We’ll hear from Chief Executive Officer Patti Hibbeler and Chief Operations Officer Karen Thorne.
Category: Giving/Leading   |   Keywords: amgradaz, american graduate, culture, phoenix, arizona, indian, center, service, social,

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Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of Arizona giving and leading looks at the nation's first social service agency designed to help American Indians living in urban areas. Christina Estes reports that the Phoenix Indian center opened downtown in 1947 and while the center has moved to a larger building, its mission remains the same.

Christina Estes: Along Central Avenue north of Indian School Road is a center based on cultural respect.

Woman: We never forget where we come from. So whenever we introduce ourselves, we introduce -- Where we're originally from.

Christina Estes: Deborah brings her son to the Phoenix Indian center for Navajo singing classes.

When I was little I started singing when I was 4 years old.

Christina Estes: He started singing when his grandmother became ill. Four years later he honors her memory by learning more songs.

Woman: This is the chanting part. The real words --

Patti Hibbeler: We were founded in 1947. And really founded during that time of the federal government's policy of Indian relocation. They took native people from reservations, moved them to one of the five relocation cities farthest away, with the thought and the idea they would assimilate, become part of the overall population, and not actually make their way back to the reservation.

Christina Estes: Language barriers, discrimination, and home sickness left many native people struggling. The center offered a place to make cultural connections and help finding jobs.

Patti Hibbeler: When you're on a reservation, you usually know where to get services. It's going to be somewhere around tribal offices. That's where most all of the human services and employment services exist. When you move to Phoenix, it's a little like the big bad wolf. You've got to find it somewhere.

Christina Estes: Work force development remains a heavy focus today because so many people move to Phoenix for jobs. That's what attracted Deborah's family. But she doesn't want the distance to dilute her Navajo roots.

Deborah Nez: I was growing up, and my grandparents and parents always told me, as you grow up, don't matter how old you are, always have a song with you. Even one song, a prayer, even one word. Say one word and one song, that will protect you from wherever you're going. It's very important, to learn -- To know at least one song.

Christina Estes: The center aims to preserve the past while preparing for the future. The chief operating officer Karen Thorne says more Arizona tribes now offer more career opportunities.

Karen Thorne: There is the need for more skilled and educated people on the reservations to conduct -- Not only the gaming enterprises, but the revenue from gaming that is built and pumped into the various tribal infrastructures, upgrade housing programs, upgrading schools, upgrading their hospital and health care services, the youth services.

Christina Estes: It's one reason Chief Executive Officer Patti Hibbeler says they're investing in young people. The center plans to open its own charter high school within the next three years.

Patti Hibbeler: When you look at the statistics for American Indians in public schools, or education, K-12 education, in Arizona we continue to still have the highest dropout rate. We have the lowest college going rate. What we find with our native population, they get lost in the school system. They get completely lost. Many of our children are I think it's part of our -- Quality of American Indian people, they're not disrespectful, they sit and they're quiet, they'll be in the classroom and they just kind of fall between the cracks. The goal is really to successfully prepare those children for colleges and careers.

Christina Estes: Setting them up for success in the city while upholding the lessons of their ancestors.

Deborah Nez: I look at him, and it really moves me. It makes me proud to see my kids picking something up like that.

Ted Simons: That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.