The Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES), established in 1972, assumed the responsibilities of several separate state agencies. Statutory authority is found at A.R.S. §§41-1951 et seq. and A.R.S. §§46-101 et seq.
DES is a state agency that provides protective and assistance services to Arizona’s children, adults and families. DES administers a broad range of programs related to children’s services, guardianship and adoption, child support enforcement, developmental disabilities, vocational rehabilitation, domestic violence, adult protective services, medical assistance eligibility, nutritional assistance, independent living, employment assistance, and unemployment insurance. The mission of the agency is “to promote the safety, well-being, and self-sufficiency of Arizona’s children, adults and families.” See DES Annual Report, 2014.
The Legislature consolidated several agencies, creating the Department of Economic Security in 1972. Those agencies included the Employment Security Commission; the State Department of Public Welfare; the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation; the Veterans’ Service Commission; the State Office of Economic Opportunity; the Apprenticeship Council; and the State Office of Manpower Planning. Historically, Arizona had many agencies that provided protective, economic, and assistance services to its citizens, including the visually impaired and aging populations. Some of these agencies originated in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.
For example, the State Child Welfare Board was created by Laws 1921, Chapter 53, and was transferred into the State Board of Public Welfare as the Child Welfare Department in 1933. Eventually, these services were moved into the State Department of Public Welfare, created in 1948.
The Unemployment Compensation Commission (Commission) was created during the First Special Session in 1936, in response to passage of the federal Social Security Act. The legislation creating the Commission was necessary in order for Arizona to participate in federal benefits. The Commission assumed the duties of the Board of Directors of State Institutions, and the measure provided for unemployment compensation and payment of benefits, outlined eligibility, and addressed contributions by employers. The Commission was merged into the Employment Security Commission by Laws 1941, Chapter 124.
Other predecessors included the Apprenticeship Council, which was created in 1941; and the Veterans Service Officer, created in 1925 and later transferred to the Arizona Veterans’ Service Commission in 1951.
In 1972, the Legislature created the Department of Economic Security by consolidating the agencies listed above, along with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, the State Office of Economic Opportunity, and the State Office of Manpower Planning.
Laws 1972, Chapter 142 established the Department of Economic Security, administered by a Director appointed by the Governor. DES assumed the duties and responsibilities of several agencies. The purpose clause explained that the reasons for consolidation were to integrate direct services to Arizonans; to reduce duplication of efforts; and to provide a means for those with multiple problems to contact a single department in order to receive coordinated services.
Laws 1973, Chapter 158 was a comprehensive measure that established the Arizona Department of Health Services. It also transferred the responsibilities of the State Department of Mental Retardation to DES.
Laws 1980, Second Special Session, Chapter 8 required DES to estimate the current year’s population for each county, city and town in Arizona and deliver the estimates to the Economic Estimates Commission by December 15 each year.
Two measures were enacted in 1982 affecting DES. The first established the Arizona Veterans’ Service Commission and transferred responsibilities, personnel, equipment and funds from DES to the new agency, effective July 1, 1982 (Laws 1982, Chapter 87). The second required DES to establish statewide services for hearing and visually impaired persons (Laws 1982, Chapter 302).
Laws 1983, Chapter 162 required DES to estimate the population of newly annexed areas of a political subdivision and to provide that information to the Economic Estimates Commission.
Laws 1986, Chapter 302 implemented recommendations regarding long-term care services, made by the Pritzlaff Commission on Long-term Care (1984) and the Governor’s private sector insurance task force (1986). A second measure was enacted in 1986 affecting DES, requiring DES to provide assistance and coordination to public and private organizations that provide aid to hungry persons and families (Laws 1986, Chapter 328).
Laws 1989, Chapter 215 established the Office of Long Term Care Ombudsman within DES, pursuant to the federal Older Americans Act of 1965.
Laws 1990, Chapter 260 established an office within DES to address homelessness.
Laws 1999, Chapter 164 established the Department of Veterans’ Services and modified the role of the Arizona Veterans’ Service Commission.
Laws 2000, Chapter 51 removed the Apprenticeship Council from DES and designated the Arizona Department of Commerce as the state agency responsible for administering apprenticeship programs. See the history for Apprenticeship Council for additional information.
Laws 2003, Second Special Session, Chapter 6 addressed various Child Protective Services issues. The measure included a provision requiring DES to establish separate investigative units to look into allegations of dependency, abuse and neglect pursuant to protocols outlined in law.
Laws 2006, Chapter 191 focused on requirements regarding proof of citizenship to qualify for social services. The measure required DES to provide a report to the Governor and Legislature describing measures taken by the state to verify eligibility and to prevent fraud regarding services provided to applicants.
Laws 2014, Second Special Session, Chapter 1 created the Department of Child Services that succeeded to the authority, powers, duties and responsibilities of DES with regard to those functions related to child protective services. The measure transferred personnel, records and equipment and stated that certificates, licenses, registrations, permits and other indicia of qualification and authority retained their validity. Child Protective Services (CPS) had been part of DES Division of Children, Youth and Families. On January 13, 2014, Governor Brewer signed an executive order outlining her plan for establishing the new agency. (See Executive Order 2014-01.)
Laws 2019, Chapter 270 established the Family Caregiver Grant Program, administered by the DES director, to cover certain expenses related directly to caring for or supporting a qualifying family member in an individual’s home. The measure capped the grant amount at $1,000; prescribed eligibility criteria and an application process; established the Family Caregiver Grant Program Fund; and outlined reporting requirements. The program becomes effective January 1, 2020 and is repealed July 1, 2023.
A second measure enacted in 2019 addressed DES responsibilities relating to adult protective services. Laws 2019, Chapter 321 modified existing requirements and duties to report abuse, neglect or exploitation of vulnerable adults; addressed confidentiality and disclosure of information; authorized DES to establish Multidisciplinary Adult Protection Teams and outlined protection team duties.
- Arizona Revised Statutes §§41-1951 et seq.
- Arizona Revised Statutes §§46-101 et seq.
- Session Laws
- Laws 1921, Chapter 53
- Laws 1925, Chapter 84
- Laws 1933, Chapter 35
- Laws 1936, First Special Session, Chapter 13
- Laws 1937, Chapter 69
- Laws 1941, Chapter 82 and Chapter 124
- Laws 1948, Seventh Special Session, Chapter 20
- Laws 1951, Chapter 107
- Laws 1972, Chapter 142
- Laws 1973, Chapter 158
- Laws 1980, Second Special Session, Chapter 8
- Laws 1982, Chapter 87 and Chapter 302
- Laws 1983, Chapter 162
- Laws 1986, Chapter 302 and Chapter 328
- Laws 1989, Chapter 215
- Laws 1990, Chapter 260
- Laws 1999, Chapter 164
- Laws 2000, Chapter 51
- Laws 2003, Second Special Session, Chapter 6
- Laws 2006, Chapter 191
- Laws 2014, Second Special Session, Chapter 1
- Laws 2019, Chapter 270 and Chapter 321
Annual Report: State Fiscal Year 2014.
Report of the Governor’s Private Sector Insurance Task Force on Long Term Care, 1986.
Long-Term Care in Arizona: The Pritzlaff Commission on Long-term Care, John C. Pritzlaff, Jr. Flinn Foundation, July, 1984.
Governor Jan Brewer Executive Order Number 2014-01, January 13, 2014.
Related collections at Arizona State Archives
- Record Group 37 – Department of Economic Security
- Record Group 89 – Arizona Board of Public Welfare