CPS kids turned away from shelters because they're too full
As recent as two years ago, Arizona's Child Protective Services didn't have to worry about where to place children in need. Today, CPS is watching helplessly as a crowded shelter turns away those who have been neglected, abused or abandoned.
When you hear the infectious giggles coming from the children in the Child Crisis Center's shelter playground, you might never guess how they got there.
"They'll be placed for any number of reasons. Neglect, abuse, abandonment," said Terri McGhee, with the Child Crisis Center.
And those, McGhee said, are the lucky ones.
"We're getting calls on a daily basis. And I mean several times a day, sometimes during the day hours and during the night hours to place children that we just don't have beds for," McGhee said.
The calls she's talking about come from Child Protective Services.
"Even two years ago we had zero CPS placements. We now have 22 today," she said.
More than half of the little boys and girls staying at the shelter have been removed from their homes by CPS.
And that's the number they're able to help.
"Lately we have been having to turn away many of the children, especially the younger ones, because we don't have the beds for them," McGhee said.
It's devastating for the workers and volunteers.
"It's an uneasy feeling. A lot of our staff, my case managers, supervisors feel really, you know, frustrated," she said.
And it's impossible for the CPS case workers.
"We know it's pretty challenging out there for those workers who are trying to find placements for them, but they're telling us, this child is going to be in our office all night if we can't place that child so," McGhee said.
The reality is, there just aren't enough foster homes for all the kids that need help. There aren't enough shelter beds for those who can't find a foster.
"So it's difficult," McGhee said.
She said she doesn't expect it to get any better anytime soon.