A mother is left waiting, not knowing when she will see her two children next. She is one of thousands of parents across the state affected by a new Child Protective Services - or CPS - policy.
"It's terrifying because I don't know what's going on with my kids," said Regina Lopez.
Lopez had her two boys, ages 4 and 5, taken away by CPS nearly a year and a half ago. She was involved in a domestic violence case and tested positive or drugs. She says she's now clean.
"They know they come to my house regularly. Wednesday's and Friday's. They weren't there this morning. So, my heart breaks for my kids."
She and thousands of other parents are left waiting, hopeless, not knowing when the next time they'll see their kids.
Agencies like Aviva Children's Services says CPS told them on Monday, the state is running a shortfall, not enough money to have 11 agencies supervise visits between parents and children.
Bob Heslinga with Aviva Children Services says that means they refer the families to CPS case managers who already are overloaded with work.
"Just from our agency alone to turn over to CPS case managers who are already overloaded, giving them 100 more families to provide visits for, really?" said Heslinga.
We reached out to CPS, they say they're not cutting budgets, instead just being fiscally responsible and will continue allowing parent/child visits.
But, Pima County Juvenile Court is concerned the state is now allowing enough money to ensure these visits. They issued this statement on Friday:
"While dependency cases in Pima County have increased by 50% in 2012, children should not be denied frequent, quality parent-child visits because of increased caseloads."
Parents, like Regina Lopez are waiting it out and holding on for hope.
"I'm doing my best to be strong. I'm remaining strong for my kids. My kids is what keeps me going," said Lopez.
The full statement from CPS follows:
"No services have ended. Staff and courts will continue to refer services to meet the needs of the families we serve, including visitation. The Department is more than willing to continue working with the providers to manage this situation together. For fiscal year 2013, there have been neither budget cuts nor targeted service cuts in child welfare. Due to rapid caseload growth and the need to ensure that available resources are used as effectively as possible, the Department continues to evaluate all services delivered to ensure they are necessary and delivered at a time when the family can be receptive to the assistance. Regarding the increases in caseloads, the Department routinely notifies stakeholders, including legislators, of the changes in the child welfare caseload through various reports. In addition, there have been numerous news articles on this topic. There have not been cuts to services nor are any specific cuts planned for fiscal year 2013. In order to minimize the risk of future cuts, the Department requested approximately $54 million in additional funding to address the growth in child welfare caseloads for fiscal year 2014. If authorized by the Legislature and approved by the Governor, this additional funding would be available beginning July 1, 2013."
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