6,000 Arizona child abuse reports not investigated

The director of Arizona's child welfare system said Thursday thousands of child abuse hotline reports have gone uninvestigated in recent years, and it's unknown if those children are still at risk of abuse.

Department of Economic Security Director Clarence Carter said that beginning in 2009, the cases were misclassified as not requiring investigations. The number of cases rapidly escalated since January as caseloads increased with a new hotline process that was put in place.

Carter said about 6,000 cases will need review. At least 125 cases already have been identified where children subsequently became the subject of child abuse investigations.

Arizona's Child Protective Services department has been one of Gov. Jan Brewer's major priorities, and Carter says she was livid at the news.

In January, Brewer signed a bill allowing the immediate hiring of 50 new CPS workers after the state Legislature overwhelmingly approved her emergency request for $4.4 million. She was surrounded by Senate and House members from both parties in a rare example of bipartisan cooperation. There was no opposition to the measure in either chamber.