A fight is raging across Arizona – parents, foster parents, activists, lawyers and even the Arizona Republic are refusing to back down against the state’s apathetic resistance to real, meaningful solutions for its outrageous record as the top state in the nation for child removals. Arizona has taken children out of their homes at a rate far higher than any other state in the country. And Phoenix (Maricopa county) ranks as the city with the highest rate of child removals by CPS – higher than New York, L.A., or any other major U.S. city. The state’s shameful record goes back a decade or more, and frequently opposition has been disconnected or silenced. More and more families have been destroyed, children lost, and lives broken. But no more – activists, legislators and local media are gaining strength and momentum.
House Republicans beat back an effort by Rep. Kelly Townsend to protect Arizona’s parents’ constitutional rights by amending SB1003. Townsend’s amendments would have prohibited Department of Child Safety caseworkers from lying to the court or withholding exculpatory evidence. Townsend asked her fellow lawmakers how they could oppose the amendments as they appeared to be preoccupied with their laptops and cellphones. The principles behind Townsend’s amendments were clear; parents have a right to due process and social workers cannot lie to parents.