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DHS Statement on Child Welfare Audit


DENVER – Denver Human Services (DHS) Executive Director Don Mares today released the following statement regarding the inaugural City audit of the DHS Child Welfare Division.

“We take our charge as a child welfare agency to help kids impacted by abuse and neglect and to strengthen families very seriously and welcome these recommendations. That starts by increasing transparency and access to our work. As a former auditor, I am pleased to have reached an agreement with the City Auditor to allow this review which will set the bar for truly measuring our work for years to come. We agree with all the findings and recommendations of the audit.

Regarding the auditor’s concerns about the documentation of child welfare employee background checks, we are confident that all child welfare workers have current completed background checks and have addressed any documentation issues. All child welfare employees receive annual background checks which exceeds what is required by either the city or state. In April 2016, our Human Resources Division implemented changes to further tighten our documentation process around background checks and education qualifications. We will continue to monitor those processes for further improvement opportunities.

Regarding the findings on our two new initiatives, the automatic assessment of vulnerable children and prevention programs, we appreciate the auditor’s findings and recommendations. The prevention program has helped hundreds of families who would not have otherwise received services. The automatic assessment of vulnerable children is an enhancement to existing practice, so we were pleased with the auditor’s finding that this practice of assigning certain referrals regarding young children is a best practice. Any information we can gather on the efficacy of the programs could help guide practice in Colorado. Both programs are early in their implementation and the auditor’s feedback assists us in identifying early in the process the right data to ensure our programs are making a positive difference for the families we serve.”

DHS has already implemented changes to address documentation of background checks and mini-grants and is already working to make improvements in gathering data on the other two programs highlighted in the audit.