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Children Failed, Children Forsaken: The Colorado Child Welfare System

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Published on Aug 9, 2011

Children Failed, Children Forsaken (Aired December 2009)

For more than two years the CALL7 Investigators uncovered preventable child deaths within Colorado's child welfare system, specifically mistakes and mismanagement by the Denver Department of Human Services. Despite promises of reform, the investigative team led by Investigative Reporter John Ferrugia found more deaths, more mistakes, and further cover-up by the agency.
The KMGH investigative team consistently obtained internal documents to expose a system fraught with incompetence, poor management and ineffective training. In short, it is a system that has left children in peril.
Our initial investigation uncovered mistakes and cover-up in four child deaths. Our reports prompted the Denver Department of Human Services to announce the hiring of forty new caseworkers to relieve what it said were overloaded caseworkers. And, it promised other major changes.
But in 2009 has uncovered two more child deaths involving on-going errors by the agency, and our detailed analysis of DDHS records revealed that announced changes and new hires were never made. In addition, an updated third party review and a new federal analysis of the system in November 2009 further confirm the KMGH findings.
Our reports had previously prompted Denver's mayor to commission an outside review of Denver Human Services; the resignation of the director of DDHS; and, a statewide review of all county practices. That state investigation expanded to a statewide probe of 13 child deaths.
When the state report was made public in 2008, the director of the Colorado Department of Human Services admitted that all the deaths were preventable. State officials found many county caseworkers statewide had not received the basic training for their jobs and, even though the state funded the training, it had no statutory authority to make sure counties used the training.
Colorado Governor Bill Ritter signed legislation and executive orders allocating hundreds of thousands of dollars for caseworker training; increasing state oversight of county agencies; and empaneling a child welfare commission that in October 2009 recommended major systemic changes statewide.

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