Progress made in preventing child abuse, lawmaker says

2:35 PM, Nov 19, 2012   |    comments
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However, a senator told the 9Wants to Know investigators that more needs to be done.

The multi-part report, jointly produced by The Denver Post and 9NEWS, caught the eye of State Senator Linda Newell, D-Littleton.

"Every citizen should be called to action from what you've shown," she said.

She praised a new state law which will allow DHS to provide more information to the public when a child dies or suffers severe abuse, but said more should be done. She also said the Colorado Office of the Child Protection Ombudsman has increased neutral oversight of the Department of Human Services.

"We've set some of these things in place and have done a really good job of significantly reforming child welfare over the last four years," she said. "But we have a long way to go."

State Department of Human Services Director Reggie Bicha, who has been in the position for nearly two years, said increased transparency when a child dies or suffers severe abuse will benefit the system.

"We'll talk to caseworkers and other people and we'll come up with our own conclusions about what happened," he said. "That information, to the greatest extent possible, will be made public."

The new law does not require the department to answer additional questions beyond what's included in the state child fatality review.

Newell, who is the vice-chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, said the state could reduce child abuse and neglect by having a statewide number to report child abuse.

"I think it's devastating and I think it's a real mistake that we haven't addressed it yet," Newell said.

Each county has its own number to report child abuse. The Child Welfare Action Committee, created by Governor Bill Ritter, suggested the state create one number that would accept child abuse complaints and monitor a county's review of each complaint.

"The state needs that ability to better track and that's one of the things that's missing," Newell said.

9NEWS and The Denver Post asked Governor John Hickenlooper for his thoughts on a statewide child abuse hotline.

"I don't think that's a bad idea," he said.

However, he wasn't sure counties would be in favor of such a plan.

"If you ask them, many of them feel we are overburdening them and putting too much of this too fast," Hickenlooper said.

Newell would like to see the issue stay in the spotlight.

"What we need to do right now is be bold," Newell said.

Contact 9Wants to Know or Nicole Vap, Executive Producer or Jace Larson Investigative Reporter or Jeremy Jojola Investigative Reporter at


(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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