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Arizona child safety department agrees to federal oversight

January 15, 2021 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona’s department of child welfare has agreed to increased federal scrutiny after failing to provide proper translation services for families whose first language is not English.

The state Department of Child Safety has entered into a voluntary settlement with federal officials and has pledged to improve services to families with limited English-speaking abilities, the Arizona Republic reported Friday.

The state agency will undergo reviews by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department’s Office of Civil Rights over the next two years, according to the settlement.

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The resolution followed complaints from 11 people who said the state agency did not provide families with Spanish translations for documents and services that parents needed to complete to fulfill the agency’s family-reunification process.

The state Department of Child Safety said in a statement that it would continue to improve its language services for families whose first language is not English.

“We strive to provide our families with every tool possible to ensure language is not a barrier to accessing DCS services,” the agency said in the statement.

Sylvia Herrera of the Barrio Defense Committee that advocates for day laborers said she was encouraged by the agreement but that there is no way to undo the harm already caused.

She said the settlement does not address that “families were destroyed by DCS practices that lead to foster care and eventual adoption to non-relatives instead of family reunification,” Herrera said.