Arizona CPS Stonewalls Requests in Child’s Near Death

Much like Los Angeles County, it’s now Arizona’s turn to hide the doings of CPS from public scrutiny.  Read about it here (Arizona Republic, 9/14/11). Not long ago, I reported here on the Los Angeles County child welfare agency, the Department of Children and Family Services, that has given the one-finger salute to the state auditor who’s asking for records on child fatalities.  Never mind that the state legislature has specifically empowered the auditor to look into the activities of child welfare agencies in three separate counties.  Never mind that she unquestionably has the power to do the job the legislature gave her.  Never mind that LA County’s DCFS hasn’t a legal leg to stand on
in resisting the auditor’s demand for records. And above all never mind the fact that some 70 Los Angeles children in three years have died at the hands of parents, foster parents and others after their plight was brought to the attention of the DCFS. No, Los Angeles County DCFS clearly has something – probably a lot – to hide, so it’s stonewalling, refusing to turn over the information to the auditor.  Stated another way, DCFS is refusing to allow the public whose taxes fund it to know what it does – and what it fails to do – to protect the children of the county.  Or, stated yet another way, DCFS’s clear message is “Just give us the money and don’t ask any questions.” Apparently, great minds think alike.  I say that because The Arizona Republic has tried numerous times to find out what Phoenix CPS was up to in several cases of child injury that came close to, but didn’t, result in death.  And, much like in neighboring California, the bureaucrats are stonewalling. Now, of course the California case involves stonewalling a public official whose job it is to find out the information DCFS is hiding.  In Arizona, it’s a newspaper trying to inform the public about what goes on behind the closed doors of CPS.  So the newspaper is only entitled to get public information, while the California state auditor has far greater authority. Still, the bureaucratic instinct to hide from public view is on display for all to see in Arizona.  Consider the fact that a little girl called Baby Josephine was recently brought to an emergency room, battered to a pulp.  The baby had 14 broken bones to go with other injuries that left no one in any doubt that they’d been caused intentionally. But that’s not all.  When she was hurt, little Josephine had been in the “care” of a “safety monitor” specifically approved by CPS.  Moreover, that “safety monitor,” Angelica Jimenez lived with her boyfriend, Steven Saldana, a convicted felon.  Keep in mind, this was a situation approved by CPS.

The Department of Economic Security has once again thwarted my quest to find out what happened to baby Josephine, the 4-month-old who wound up with 14 broken bones and other injuries while in the care of a CPS-approved “safety monitor.”

The third time requesting the records wasn’t the charm, but it certainly was revealing.

The state has no intention of letting the public know what steps Child Protective Services took to keep this baby safe.

As the bureaucrats see it, we aren’t entitled to know whether the CPS checked the background of Angelica Jimenez or her live-in felon boyfriend, Steven Saldana, before handing over the infant.

Needless to say, it’s not the first time a child has been terribly injured, the paper asked for information and been turned down.

Just as they believe we aren’t entitled to know what the CPS did when called to come to the aid of a 10-year-old Gilbert boy – before his hands and feet were bound and he was forced to eat dog poop. Before he was repeatedly sodomized and his penis burned. The attacks came to light on Friday after his adoptive mother, Jennifer Louise Barnes, was arrested.

According to Gilbert police, the CPS received multiple reports about the boy. Just don’t dare ask what the agency did.

The cover behind which CPS is hiding is pretty thin.  It seems that there’s a state law that requires disclosure of CPS records only in the event of a child’s death or near death. 

Baby Josephine stopped breathing in the dead of night on Aug. 3. She was having seizures when she arrived at Cardon Children’s Medical Center sporting 14 broken bones, bruises all over her face and a cigarette burn on her arm.

According to Chandler police, “Forensic doctors stated the child had suffered a near-death episode and the injuries were non-accidental trauma.”

So you’d think CPS would cough up their records, given the fact that the four-month-old had stopped breathing and doctors on the scene said she’s “suffered a near-death episode.”  But no.  In the interest of secrecy, they found their own doctors to contradict the ones’ who’d actually treated her at the ER.

“As we previously informed you, information regarding the CPS investigation involving Angelica Jimenez does not meet the qualifications for release because the incident that is the subject to your client’s public records request was not determined to be a near fatality caused by abuse or neglect,” Todd Stone, DES public-records-request coordinator, wrote on Monday to The Republic’s attorney, David Bodney, rejecting this, our third request for the records…

By the way, both state and federal law define “near fatality” as “an act that, as certified by a physician, places a child in serious or critical condition.”

I’d say that pretty much anyone confronted with a four-month-old child who’d been beaten so severely that she had 14 fractures, plus cigarette burns and who’d stopped breathing would say her condition was “serious.”  My guess is that 99% of people would say that, but apparently the other 1% work for CPS.  They of course have a vested interest in hiding their own incompetence, malfeasance, negligence, cronyism, etc. And hide it they do, for as long as they can under whatever pretext is available.  Meanwhile, the children it’s their duty to protect suffer terribly, and we the people pay the bills.

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