Family & Children Services in Phoenix AZ was recently threatened with being declared as a criminal entity under the Arizona Criminal Justice Division and has since taken a stand. The department is asking the courts to delay the execution of the order and instead ask that the case be heard in an Arizona Superior Court. This is despite the fact that there has been no determination of guilt or wrongdoing by the department. Although the court has been asked to wait until the next court date to hold the trial, the family court will not deny them permission to continue their legal challenge on the grounds that they have not met their burden of proving their complaint is justified.
The Department of Family & Children Services in Phoenix AZ was sued by the Maricopa County Attorney General’s Office on March 4, 2020 for negligence, failure to protect children from harm and/or abuse, and negligent adoption practices. In the complaint, the county attorney’s office claimed that Family & Children Services failed to provide adequate training to staff about domestic violence, child abuse and child neglect. The complaint also claims that the agency was lax about monitoring child welfare cases. In addition to these allegations, the state also alleged that some of the children in question were improperly placed with individuals who should not have been able to care for them, and that some of the children were adopted by those who should not have been eligible. In total, the complaint claimed that some two dozen children had been placed with individuals who did not meet state guidelines for adoption.
According to a court hearing held on April 5, Family & Children Services was given until July 7 to respond to the complaint. If they do not respond in time, the County Attorney’s Office will file for default judgment and a bench warrant will be issued. If the court does not order immediate custody and/or placement of the children into the appropriate homes and agencies, the Department of Family & Children Services will be required to reimburse the County Attorney’s Office all legal fees. A default judgment is when the court finds that the agency has not responded to a complaint or court order. If the agency fails to respond in time and the case is not dismissed or resolved within a certain amount of time, the defendant will be placed in contempt of court and may be forced to appear in court. The court will have the option of dismissing or allowing the case to proceed.