Phoenix – Today, January Contreras, candidate for Arizona Attorney General and former prosecutor released her priorities for protecting children in Arizona as Attorney General. Her plan includes measures to stop crimes against children, prosecute predators, and partner with law enforcement and school officials to create safer communities. She also placed key emphasis on supporting families and strengthening resources for parents as necessary prevention measures.
January Contreras, an experienced criminal prosecutor and a founder of a non-profit for abused and vulnerable kids and youth, said "I know that the safety of our children must come first. I’m a mother myself, and I would do anything to keep my children safe. As the next Attorney General, I'll work every day with that same conviction to keep all kids in Arizona safe."
January Contreras is a former Deputy County Attorney, Assistant Attorney General, and non-profit executive. She’s running for Attorney General to bring accountability and transparency back to our government, and to put the safety, financial security, and well-being of Arizonans first. Learn more at www.JanuaryforAZ.com.
As a former prosecutor and lawyer to victims of crime, many whom have experienced the foster care system, I have always served to keep our families and communities safe. As a parent and a lawyer, I feel a special obligation to keeping children safe because they often cannot protect themselves.
Stopping crimes against children - abuse, child trafficking and pornography, and sexual abuse - is a priority to me as our next Attorney General. There is more to do to support law enforcement and to support children in need. I look forward to working with communities throughout Arizona to ensure that we leave no stone unturned as we work to keep our children safe.
A Plan for Protecting Children in Arizona
Prioritize Action to Stop Crimes Against Children
Launch a Statewide Task Force to Prevent and Prosecute Crimes Against Children. Arizona’s kids will be best served when we make them a priority. The Task Force will include state, local, tribal and federal law enforcement officials, as well as social workers, health care professionals, and faith-based leaders representing diverse regions and backgrounds. The singular focus is how can State leadership can best support the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of crimes against children in Arizona. There is no doubt that we can and must do better.
Support training and collaborative efforts of local law enforcement and communities. Our police forces have experience that matters when it comes to keeping kids safe. Resources are stretched, but should remain strong in the investigation of child crimes. To the extent resources can be identified, I will lead the Attorney General’s Office with a commitment to support training and collaborative community efforts that help drive the prevention, reporting, investigation, and prosecution of crimes against children, including abuse, sexual abuse, and child pornography and trafficking.
Support Child Advocacy Centers throughout Arizona. Child advocacy centers have proven to be successful in rural towns and urban cities because they bring local law enforcement and social service providers together to address the needs of children and families in the face of crisis. I will champion greater access to child advocacy centers because they improve support for child victims of crime, and they strengthen a community’s ability to respond to crimes against children.
Implement Safeguards for the Safety of Kids In the Custody of the State. It’s a horrific reality that wherever children are most vulnerable, child predators will seek them out. While the vast majority of people who care for vulnerable kids are doing so out of a deep commitment to their well-being, safeguards are needed to prevent the few who are there for dangerous purposes. We must take stronger action to keep child predators from foster care homes and from working in group homes for kids in government custody - whether these are homes for kids in the foster care system or homes for kids in the immigration system. When there are reports, we must act immediately and hold responsible those who are involved in harm to children, whether through criminal or negligent acts.
Strengthen the Role of the Attorney General in State Transparency and Policy
Publish monthly reports on the child protection cases handled by our Child and Family Protection Division. Transparency in government is important. On my watch the Attorney General’s Office will demonstrate accountability and transparency by publishing monthly updates on the number and general demographic information of child protection cases we handle, including the number that involve substance abuse and mental health issues. Complete transparency will ensure we never stop paying attention to the impact of the work on children and families, and that we can quickly identify when greater prevention resources are especially needed in Arizona communities.
Advocate for more prevention services for struggling families. The attorneys in our office will always do their best to keep kids safe, and that includes keeping kids out of unsafe homes. As a leader, I am also committed to being an advocate for prevention services because there is more our state can do to keep kids out of the foster care system to begin with. Just this year, Arizona politicians refused to accept Arizona’s allocation of $56 million in federal child care assistance for working parents. I have represented victims of domestic violence who delayed leaving an abusive home because they could not afford to support their family due to child care costs. We will better serve Arizonans when we restore childcare assistance and other preventative services such as affordable housing for families in crisis, drug treatment and mental health services. There are necessary investments in the safety of Arizona’s children and families.
Work with law enforcement and educators to create safe schools
Lead efforts with local law enforcement and school leaders in cities, towns and tribal communities for safe schools. Develop regional task forces and a statewide effort to identify and share best practices for school safety plans and training to prevent, prepare for, and respond to school shootings. Nothing matters as much as the safety of our children. We have a shared community responsibility as parents and community members, and as Attorney General I will fulfill my obligation to help lead these efforts.
Support school efforts to prevent bullying and cyber-bullying. Be a part of building a movement to prevent bullying and cyberbullying in our schools. Too often we see children in pain because they've been targeted and attacked in physical and non-physical ways. On the internet, these actions can increasingly happen out of the sight of adults. I am committed to collaborating with communities across Arizona to prevent these harms in our schools.