Arizona CPS has discovered a computer program error, one that’s gone undetected since 1996. How many Arizona families and cases were affected? Thousands.
CHILDS is the state’s database tracking system used by CPS. For 15 years no one noticed (or came forward) that CHILDS’ default print setting was set to 37 screens when, in fact, it should have printed 98 screens. Consequently, only 34% of the public record was provided in any given case. Even if some of the missing screens contained duplicate content, this represents an egregious failure of disclosure by a state agency.
Last June during the yearly CPS review, one state employee finally noticed and brought attention to an important anomaly. That is, for the same child in the same case, records released to one party differed from records released to the other party. Tipping the scales of justice, CHILDS consistently provided only a small portion of the data that should have been released following a legitimate records request.
Program Error Restricted Access to Public Records.
CPS falls under the DES which is notifying the juvenile court judges, the 21,000 attorneys, and the 30,000 individuals who were provided incomplete CPS records in their civil and child-dependency cases, and that’s only since 2010.
How many parents’ rights were wrongfully interfered with?
How many children were returned to abusive or neglectful homes?
Juvenile Court, Family Court, and Lawsuits Against DES.
The impact on juvenile court cases is expected to be lesser only because most of these matters are settled (only about 10% of dependency cases go to trial). But in all cases, criminal and civil, a fair process depends upon disclosure and the evidence presented.
Judge Aimee Anderson’s (Maricopa County Juvenile Court) comment to The Republic indicates the seriousness of the DES/CPS problem: “It’s hard to know the real impact that this is going to have, because we don’t know what we didn’t get… [T]he state’s bigger problem is in the criminal arena… and lawsuits against the department.”