Colorado requests investigation after deaths of 43 children

Colorado Department of Human Services considering investigation after deaths of 43 children in welfare program

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

The Colorado Department of Human Services is considering a requirement that social workers examine prior contacts with a child to determine if further investigation is necessary after the deaths of 43 children in Colorado's welfare program.

The change would determine when caseworkers must investigate reports of abuse and neglect. The previous rules required that county social workers automatically open an investigation if they receive three reports of child abuse or neglect within two years, and the first two referrals were not investigated.

The proposal comes less than a month after the department opened its second child fatality review this year, involving an Adams County boy who may have been killed by his grandmother.

The rule change could allow social workers to focus on cases that may be more severe, said Judy Rodriguez, assistant director of the Division of Child Welfare.

The rule changes make sense, she said.

"Supervisors look at each case and approve or disapprove a referral," Rodriguez said. "They are the ones who know their communities."

Opponents said the proposal is based on opinions instead of solid information, the Denver Post reported. Some board members are worried that changing the rule could result in fewer in-depth investigations.

"In a time when we've had 43 child deaths, one would think that we would be trying to figure out how to address our own accountability," said Stephanie Villafuerte, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Children's Law Center.

The 43 child deaths reported in 18 counties involved cases where social workers failed to follow basic rules, according to the Denver Post.

TRTWorld, AP