Report Calls for Independent Review of State's Child Welfare System

JULY 26, 2006 - Posted at 7:57 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A children's watchdog group says Arkansas' child-welfare system is still struggling to provide needed services despite filling many vacancies that were called a "staffing crisis" last year.  Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families issued a report yesterday following up on findings the group made last year on the state's Division of Children and Family Services.

The group is calling for an independent review of the state's child welfare system that would include an assessment of its budget and training.  The group's director, Rich Huddleston, says the state loses another generation of young people every year the system performs poorly.

Last year, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families reported the state system was suffering from a staffing crisis because 23 percent of its family service worker positions were unfilled.  In the latest report, the group says the percentage has dropped to 16 percent.

Still, the group says, the percentage of alleged victims of abuse who are seen by a case worker within three days has not improved.  The group says less than half of those cases are investigated within 30 days of the allegation.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)