Skip navigation

Mayor Hancock Announces Child Safety Net Impact Team Transition to Children’s Cabinet Subcommittee

DENVER Oct. 30, 2015 – Mayor Michael B. Hancock today announced the creation of a child safety net subcommittee under the Mayor’s Children’s Cabinet and initiated the transition of the Child Safety Net Impact Team to the new subcommittee. The announcement, made during Mayor Hancock’s visit a gathering of the Child Safety Net Impact Team at Denver Human Services (DHS), institutionalizes the functions of the new Children’s Cabinet Child Safety Net Subcommittee as the group charged with continuing the work to make the city better informed and coordinated around the protection of Denver’s children.

“Our Child Safety Net Impact Team was charged with taking a critical eye toward our practices, and they delivered on many levels. But we recognize that there is still much more work to be done,” Mayor Hancock said. “I want to thank everyone who has taken part in this effort for their commitment to intensifying the city’s work to protect our children, and I look forward to seeing this progress continue under the new Children’s Cabinet subcommittee.”

The Child Safety Net Impact Team brought together members of the city’s safety net agencies including the Colorado Department of Human Services, the Office of Colorado’s Child Protection Ombudsman, and several community, nonprofit and other agencies. Formed this year as part of what the Mayor called “a wake-up call” for the city to address child abuse and neglect, the team began work early in the summer and announced their Phase 1 immediate action recommendations on Aug. 26.

The Phase 1 recommendations included:

  • Implementation of child abuse and neglect mandatory reporter training for all city employees who interact with children and families as a part of their regular duties. The city expects this training to be completed by the end of the year, all employees who interact with children and families as a regular part of their job with the city will complete state training on how to spot and report suspected child abuse or neglect. DHS and the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation have agreed to train all of their employees regardless of job function. In 2016, all new City and County of Denver employees will receive the training as part of the new employee onboarding process.
  • Placement of DHS social caseworkers into select Denver Public Schools to ensure better information sharing, coordination and improved visibility. Three social caseworkers are in place now with the potential to add an additional school in the future.
  • 100 percent of children who died from maltreatment in Denver between 2012 and 2014 were age five or under (based on state reporting requirements). With this data in mind, DHS implemented a new referral process to automatically deploy investigative staff into the field on referrals of abuse or neglect where children under the age of five are present and when the agency has received two referrals on the family in the previous 14 months. Social caseworkers, supervisors and managers have reported that the new procedure is already having an impact with DHS estimating this will result in an additional 700 to 1,000 assessments per year.
  • Collaboration with Denver Health: Already, Denver Health medical professionals are lending their expertise to DHS teams determining whether to investigate a claim of abuse or neglect. Each morning, DHS’ Red Teams meet to determine whether an investigation should be launched following allegation of abuse or neglect. In August, members of the Denver Health medical team began consulting with the Red Team to provide medical expertise on decisions involving allegations of abuse or neglect where medical concerns are present.
  • DHS and Denver Health are also collaborating to develop a nurse home wellness program. The goal is to provide a broad array of medical support services to families referred to DHS that do not meet criteria for formal investigation, but who would benefit from extended healthcare support. This could include pre-natal care and well checks for families with children up to the age of five. DHS and Denver Health are aiming for implementation by the end of the year.
  • Through a partnership with the Colorado Department of Human Services, safety net agencies such as recreation centers and libraries will display information for the public about the new statewide hotline to report suspected child abuse or neglect. The Denver Early Childhood Council and DHS worked with CDHS on the development of co-branded materials and they are being distributed to partners this week.
  • The creation of a subcommittee under the direction of the Children’s Cabinet comprised of select leaders from the Child Safety Net Impact Team to ensure ongoing monitoring and coordination of the city’s child safety net, as well as to oversee implementation of Phase II and III recommendations from the Impact Team. This subcommittee will also advise the Mayor on matters related to the protection of Denver’s children.
  • Hosting a series of community conversations to inform the city on community concerns about child abuse and neglect as well as barriers for reporting suspicion of abuse and neglect. Meetings with key stakeholders are underway and will be completed prior to Thanksgiving. The city will deploy teams out to present at various existing community meeting and will host a series of resource fairs in the city’s four quadrants to both provide aid for struggling families and get additional community impact on child abuse and neglect issues in their community.

Today marks the beginning of the transition the independent task force into a more permanent subcommittee under the direction of Mayor’s Children’s Cabinet, as originally proposed in the Phase 1 recommendations. The move will ensure the work of the Child Safety Net Impact Team will endure with ongoing monitoring and coordination of the city’s child safety net, implementation of Phase II and III recommendations from the new Children’s Cabinet Child Safety Net Subcommittee, and continued advice and counsel to the Mayor on matters related to the protection of our youngest citizens.

“An incredible amount of work was accomplished in a short period of time,” said Erin Brown, the executive director of the Denver Office of Children’s Affairs, the office that will now oversee the new Children’s Cabinet Child Safety Net Subcommittee. “The comprehensive approach of the Children’s Cabinet allows us, as policy makers, to look at a multitude of experiences that shape the future outcomes of Denver’s children.

Next steps for the new Children’s Cabinet Child Safety Net Subcommittee included determination of chair and co-chair positions and convening the first meeting of the subcommittee to define meeting structure.

###

About Denver Human Services

Denver Human Services provides assistance, protection and prevention services to Denver’s most vulnerable residents. Assistance programs are provided to eligible Denver residents in financial need and include federal food, cash and medical benefits, as well as child care, child support, energy, rental and burial assistance. Protection and Prevention services are provided via child, youth and adult protection services, along with community focused programming including veterans’ services, homeless services, and substance abuse awareness campaigns. For more information, visit www.denvergov.org/humanservices.


About the Office of Children's Affairs

The Office of Children's Affairs, formerly known as the Mayor's Office for Education and Children, was established in 1995 to advocate for children and youth in the City and County of Denver from birth to young adulthood.  The Office of Children's Affairs is dedicated to ensuring Denver’s children and youth have their basic needs met, are ready for kindergarten, and prepared for academic and professional success.  We do not provide direct services, rather we work with other city agencies and community partners to increase access, increase participation, and improve the quality of programs and services for all of Denver’s children and youth. For more information, visit https://www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/office-of-childrens-affairs.html.