Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Audit Reaffirms Work Being Conducted as Part of “Keeping Kids Safe and Families Healthy”

Colorado’s Child Welfare system has improved over the last four years and is on the right path to keeping kids safe and families healthy.

The Legislative audit conducted by the Office of State Auditor from July 2013 through October 2014 and released today had several administrative findings, most of which have already been completed as part of the implementation of Governor Hickenlooper’s 2012 and 2013 child welfare plans, "Keeping Kids Safe and Families Healthy."

"The Office of State Auditor’s report reaffirms the work already under way as part of the Governor’s child welfare plans," said Reggie Bicha, executive director, Colorado Department of Human Services.  "I am proud to say that we have already accomplished many of the findings in the audit, and we are seeing system improvements as a result."

Colorado’s state supervised/county administered system provides the best model to achieve the ongoing improvements from the Governor’s plans and the audit because counties have the clearest understanding of the needs of their local communities and available resources. The State places a high value on the partnership with counties and the joint ownership and accountability of the child welfare system.

Over the past four years, the State and counties together have implemented nearly every component of the Governor’s plans, including:
  • A common practice approach for Colorado through the use of RED Teams, which will be in use in every county beginning in January, and a pilot Differential Response program, which is demonstrating positive outcomes in eight counties;
  • Managing performance through the use of County Scorecards and C-Stat, which for nearly three years has used real-time data to drive positive outcomes;
  • In partnership with the Kempe Center, a complete redesign of the Child Welfare Training Academy to include a new curriculum based on the most current child protection research and data; regional training sites and online training opportunities; and continuing education and training for call takers/screeners, caseworkers, supervisors, senior work staff and foster parents;
  • Increased transparency through the Community Performance Center that provides online county-specific outcome data; and statewide C-Stat data published quarterly online;
  • The creation of the Child Welfare Executive Leadership Council which brings together community members, advocates, stakeholders, foster parents and county partners to advise the CDHS Executive Director on policy and practice across the system;
  • Legislation to increase transparency and expand the scope of the Child Fatality Review Team to include near fatalities and egregious incidents as part of county reporting and team review, and, in the case of fatalities, the ability to release the child’s name, date of birth and date of death.  Colorado is one of only two states in the nation to review and report on egregious incidents. 
  • A statewide hotline providing one number to report abuse and neglect across Colorado that will launch on time and on budget in January;
  • New prevention programs to help families before they become involved in the child welfare system – SafeCare Colorado, Community Response and expansion of Nurse Family Partnership;
  • New online training for mandatory reporters;
  • The use of mobile technology to enhance field work for caseworkers;
  • A caseload/workload study conducted by the Office of State Auditor which found that Colorado is currently understaffed by 30%.
"We recognize the vast amount of work that has been done over the last four years to improve our child protection system," added Bicha.  "The State Auditor’s report is affirmation of the work already being done since the inception of the Governor’s child welfare plans for Colorado.  We are on a journey of continuous improvement to ensure positive outcomes for children and families."

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