Five senior Arizona child welfare workers are defending their actions after they were fired for their role in closing more than 6,500 child abuse and neglect cases without investigation.

They held a news conference Wednesday where they said their superiors ordered them to review reports called in to the state's child abuse and neglect hotline and sidetrack those that weren't serious. The process was needed to reduce a crushing workload on child welfare field workers.

The five say they're being made scapegoats and their lawyer is contemplating a wrongful termination lawsuit.

They were fired last month by the new head of state's child welfare agency. Gov. Jan Brewer created a new agency to handle child welfare after the uninvestigated reports came to light in November.