Gov. John Hickenlooper was joined today by Reggie Bicha, Executive Director of the Department of Human Services, members of the General Assembly and county partners to introduce the second phase of the state’s Child Welfare Plan called “Keeping Kids Safe and Families Healthy 2.0.”
The updated plan builds on an effort announced by the governor nearly 12 months ago that detailed a common practice approach for all 64 counties, a new performance management system, redesigned employee training strategies, funding reform and increased transparency.
“We are already seeing improvements as a result of last year’s plan and the state’s child welfare system is stronger today,” Hickenlooper said. “This second phase will build on what the state is doing in partnership with local government to protect children and keep more families healthy. Beyond what state and local government does, a new hotline will make it easier for every Coloradan to join in protecting kids.”
The updated version of the plan revamps the front end of Colorado’s child protection system through enhanced screening of calls reporting possible child abuse or neglect; new prevention strategies to assist families before they become part of the system; and training for mandatory reporters so at-risk children come to the attention of the child protection system sooner.
Keeping Kids Safe and Families Healthy 2.0 includes the following new areas of improvement on the five core components of the original plan:
A Common Practice Approach
- A statewide hotline providing one number to report child abuse or neglect across Colorado, and a corresponding public awareness and prevention campaign.
- Prevention services for referrals that do not meet the criteria to open an investigation, but for which the family is in need of additional supports to ensure they remain stable and do not become part of the child protection system. These prevention strategies include a community response program, access to SafeCare and enhanced Nurse Family Partnership collaboration.
- Additional funding for counties that have previously overspent in their core services allocations.
The increased funding will allow counties to provide more resources to keep kids safely in their own homes.
- Standardized use of RED (Review, Evaluate, Direct) Teams across the state to ensure consistent screening practice and that each and that each referral is properly assessed and assigned.
Work Force Development
- New training for mandatory reporters.
- New competencies and training for child abuse screening.
- Mobile technology to help caseworkers be more efficient and ease workload.
- Implementation of the federal Title IV-E Waiver to include funding to develop services that will keep children safely in their own homes.
Transparency and Public Engagement
- Development of a public web site displaying statewide and county-specific data.
- Further refinement of the child fatality reporting statute to allow for the release of the child’s name, date of birth and date of death.
In addition, CDHS, counties and legislative leadership plan to work collaboratively with the State Auditor to review the state’s workload/caseload for county caseworkers.
“The governor’s enhanced plan takes child protection in Colorado to the next level,” Bicha said. “It is an innovative approach to bridging prevention and practice in a way that stabilizes families and helps prevent child abuse.”
Hickenlooper asked lawmakers in an amended budget request last month to set aside $22 million to fund the changes. The administration is also working closely with various members of the General Assembly on legislative changes that are needed in some areas.
More information on “Keeping Kids Safe and Families Healthy 2.0” can be found at www.Colorado.gov/cdhs.