Courts in Colorado take few things more seriously than allegations of child abuse. For the past five years, the Colorado Department of Human Services had put on a public awareness campaign to help all Colorado residents recognize the warning signs of child abuse and neglect.
The campaign also teaches how to report these issues. As of 2018, the program is seeing a large increase in the number of calls.
Reports from the hotline led to the investigation of over 57,000 families for possible child abuse or neglect. However, less than half of the families investigated resulting in confirmed accounts of child abuse.
Colorado officials note this as a success of the program. With an issue as harmful as child abuse, the CDHS would rather issues be over-reported than under-reported.
Nationwide, the trend is following the same lines. There are higher rates of calls to child protective services departments and fortunately a slight decrease in the number of confirmed cases of child abuse since 2017.
When an investigation occurs
Though everyone can agree with investigating these reports so that kids stay safe, a visit from a social worker can still be a nerve-wracking experience. For families experiencing a first-time visit from a social worker, it can be helpful to remember:
- The main purpose of child abuse and neglect investigations is not to take children away from their families. It is to ensure that children are safe.
- Document as much as possible of the social worker’s visit. An account is useful in case the situation turns into a “he said, she said” situation.
- Involve an attorney sooner rather than later. While most investigations do not result in a conviction, it is better to have a legal representative on your side from the beginning.
- Social services may offer voluntary classes, therapy or other services that the CDHS will provide free of charge. Taking advantage of these resources does not mean admitting to child abuse or neglect.
Hopefully, the child abuse and neglect hotline will continue to meet the goal of ensuring safety for all children in Colorado without putting families through undue hardship.