The foster care system is so overloaded in Arizona that children are sometimes sleeping between cubicles in Department of Child Safety offices. According to CBS5 in Phoenix, this isn’t even a new problem. It is coming to light now that records are being kept on the practice for the first time.
When children are taken by the child protective services agency, there isn’t always a place ready for them, and they end up spending the night on cots set up in an office building. According to state officials, there simply aren’t enough group and foster homes to go around. The state of Arizona is working to increase the capacity of group homes, reports CBS Las Vegas, as well as recruiting more temporary foster parents willing to take children in for a day or two.
The children of all ages are sleeping in a place that is not truly equipped to handle the needs of the kids. Privacy doesn’t appear to be a concern, even when the children may be teenagers needing some semblance of privacy. There are toys and movies in a room at the offices, but they aren’t with a family who will give them the love they so desperately need.
“Its not ideal,” DCS program manager Gene Burns told CBS5.
“The most ideal place for a kid to sleep is with a family. We are not a family. We have tried to make do with what we have. We have volunteers that bring in and donate food. We have beds here. We have cribs. We have a washing machine and dryer. We have a shower. This is not the place to put a kid.”
This is a growing problem in Arizona, where KTAR reports that 32 new children come into the Arizona foster care system every single day. There are reportedly 16,400 foster children currently in the Arizona system. In fact, Arizona has the second largest increase in the number of kids coming into foster care, second only to Texas. Those are the only two states reported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families which saw “significant increases” in the past decade. The other states reporting an increase are Indiana, Nevada, West Virginia, Iowa, Mississippi, Arkansas, Utah, Oklahoma, and Kentucky.