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Arizona's foster-care crisis deepens

•, By Mary K. Reinhart
 Arizona is caring for a record number of foster children as child-welfare workers juggle an ever-growing number of abuse and neglect reports, according to a new state report.

The biannual report shows that the state’s Child Protective Services now has 14,314 children in foster care, an increase of 40 percent since March 2010, and continues to be buried under an avalanche of reports, most of them alleging that children are being neglected.

A separate monthly report shows an even higher 14,608 children in care as of June 30, including 95 babies and small children living in group homes and crisis shelters. In March 2010, there were 10,207 Arizona foster children.

Gov. Jan Brewer and state lawmakers have focused increased scrutiny on CPS and gave its parent agency, the Department of Economic Security, more than $60 million in new funding to keep pace with growth.

But the data released Thursday during a meeting with child-welfare advocates and non-profit agency administrators predate most of that funding.

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