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Saying kids deserve better, Ducey replaces state child safety director

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Asserting that the Department of Child Safety needed to go in a new direction, Gov. Doug Ducey appointed a new director Tuesday.

Greg McKay, a former Phoenix police detective who helped uncover the state’s failure to investigate thousands of cases of alleged child abuse and neglect in 2013, will take over for Charles Flanagan. Ducey didn’t explain his decision to remove Flanagan.

“We know that Arizona’s children deserve better,” Ducey said. “When it comes to Arizona’s record of safeguarding children, our most vulnerable, our state government has come up woefully short.”

McKay said he recognizes the scope of the task ahead of him, but he promised to make child safety a top priority going forward.

“My intention and promise is to protect as many of those children as possible every day,” he said.

Former Gov. Jan Brewer created the department after the discovery that Child Protective Services failed to investigate about 6,600 cases of alleged child abuse and neglect. Brewer appointed Flanagan as the agency’s director at the time of its creation.

McKay outlined some key areas for improvement, including proper training, cooperation with law enforcement, outreach and preventive services.

“The people who work for this department came into this line of work because they wanted to help children and families,” he said. “Somewhere along the line, they might have lost the focus that that’s primary and paramount every day.”

Ducey named Vicki Mayo, vice president of the Scottsdale company Valor IT, as the new deputy director of the agency.

Mayo said she would bring her background in business and child advocacy to her new position.

“Governor Ducey has truly established an amazing team here, and even though it’s going to be an immense challenge, it’s an even bigger honor and an unparalleled opportunity improve children’s lives all across our state,” she said.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich said his office would work closely with the agency and governor’s office to address cases of child abuse.

“We as a society, the time for speeches, the time for politics, the time for feeble gestures is over,” he said.

Ducey said change would take time and that he and his team are on the same page on what successful reform will look like.

“Our objective is an agency most concerned with protecting children, not with protecting itself,” he said.