Republicans take aim at the Department of Child Safety, citing missing children


Lawmakers grilled the new head of the Arizona Department of Child Safety Wednesday during a lengthy debate over an audit of the agency as lawmakers ultimately decided to recommend reauthorizing the agency for just four years instead of the maximum 10. 

As part of the periodic sunset process for state agencies, lawmakers are tasked with evaluating and determining how long a state agency’s operations should continue before the next review. State law limits extensions to 10 years, but lawmakers have historically extended state agencies for eight years at a time — a figure that coincides with legislative term limits.

After more than five hours of testimony during a sunset review hearing, something all state agencies face at least once a decade, lawmakers landed on a four-year continuation, much to the dismay of some lawmakers who wanted shorter and longer continuation periods. 

DCS was created in 2014, amid controversy over how the state was handling large caseloads and cases that were found to have been not investigated. At the time, the work was handled by Child Protective Services, which was a division of the Arizona Department of Economic Security, and DCS was created by the legislature as part of a series of reforms to child safety. 

Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, contended that DCS has operated under “lackadaisical  leadership” and suggested that the agency be reauthorized for only two years. 


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January 2024