A new legislative committee will convene next month to examine child welfare laws, and Maricopa County Attorney Richard Romley said Wednesday he’ll wait to see how much is accomplished before deciding whether to convene a grand jury to investigate state Child Protective Services.
Also Wednesday, a third CPS-related case in a week came to light when police arrested a woman accused of offering her 13-year-old daughter to drug dealers for prostitution in Mesa. CPS had received three reports on the girl, but found no proof of abuse or neglect.
Meanwhile, a Mesa lawmaker said he may call a second committee to hear from state CPS workers and families about the recent cases, including that of 5-year-old twins who Phoenix police say were kept in cages and a 2-year-old Mesa boy beaten to death Aug. 17.
At a news conference, Romley said he is tired of studying CPS while children die from abuse and neglect. He reiterated his threat of a grand jury probe to consider possible child endangerment charges against state officials unless reforms are made.
“Too many children are dying needlessly,” Romley said. “One thing I know that I can do is . . . I can get answers.”
Romley, who served on Gov. Janet Napolitano’s CPS reform commission that issued its report in June, also repeated his call to open CPS records and court hearings.
The new legislative committee, made up of legislators and community members, meets Sept. 10 to hear presentations on recommendations from the governor’s CPS panel and Romley, who issued a separate report in March.
Sen. Mark Anderson, R-Mesa, who served on the governor’s commission and will serve on the new legislative panel, said he may convene another panel that would hear from CPS caseworkers behind closed doors.