Note: The State of Washington already has an ombudsman. She is over worked, has no power, and nothing comes of her well done reports. We have a slightly higher kill rate of children than Colorado (pop. 5 million).
MONITORING CHILD WELFARE
Colorado Lawmakers unveil bill to create an independent investigator of the system
Peter Marcus, DDN Staff Writer
Friday, February 26, 2010
Following the deaths of 35 children over the past three years who “slipped through the cracks” of the state’s child protection system, lawmakers yesterday unveiled a bill that would create an independent investigator to address weaknesses in the system.
At a news conference yesterday, Sen. Linda Newell, D-Littleton, unveiled her Senate Bill 171, the Child Protection Ombudsman Bill. The measure would create an independent “advocate” to help protect children and provide accountability of the child welfare system.
“How many children have to die before we take action?” asked Newell. “Today, we need to make a stand for those who are too young to stand up for themselves.”
It remains unclear exactly how the program would be run, either directly through the Department of Human Services, or through a nonprofit. Karen Beye, director of the Colorado Department of Human Services, said those details will be worked out by lawmakers as they debate the bill.
But supporters of the legislation, including Gov. Bill Ritter, say the move is necessary to fix the broken system. (Hi, Bill...FYI...This isn't working at all for WA.)
“This legislation will provide transparency, consistency, accountability and ongoing input for Colorado’s child welfare system and help us improve critical services for Colorado’s most vulnerable children,” said Ritter. (NO...it won't)
The proposal stems from one of 29 recommendations made by the Child Welfare Action Committee, which was formed in April 2008 by an executive order from the governor. The committee met for 18 months before making its recommendations. (It took almost two years!!!)
Several recommendations are already being implemented, including the Child Welfare Training Academy, (licensed and bonded state workers???) a differential response program that allows stakeholders to skip the court process,(do away with all parental rights????) and beefed-up response to mandatory reporters, to name a few.
HIGH PROFILE CASES
Several high-profile cases raised caution flags over the past three years.
One case was 3-year-old Neveah Gallegos, who was suffocated, placed in a garbage bag... (I WILL SPARE US ALL THE ALL TOO FAMILIAR DETAILS)..... Critics said it was unacceptable that the case slipped past the welfare system’s radar, especially considering the mother’s boyfriend was a registered sex offender, and that little Neveah had been treated at an emergency room for vaginal bleeding. (THAT I had to leave in!)
Seven-year-old Chandler Grafner was another child... He weighed only 34 pounds when he was found dead. (Colorado..we have you beat..we found a 14 year-old weighing only 47 pounds!) Grafner's biological parents filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against child-welfare .... claiming the Department of Human Services failed to adequately investigate the foster parents... There were even reports at the time that surfaced from Grafner’s school indicating abuse.
OMBUDSMAN'S DUTIES: STOP SUCH TRAGEDIES FROM OCCURRING
Ritter said the purpose of the ombudsman would be to really stop such tragedies from occurring.
.... The ombudsman’s office would be charged with reviewing complaints, making recommendations and filing an annual report concerning improvements to the system. An aspect of community outreach and education would also be tied to the job. (WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BET THEY ARE USING WA LAW AS A MODEL??)
While the ombudsman would be independent of state departments, the program would be an independent component of the Department of Human Services. (That has accomplished nothing here. Without any power their is no consequence to lies and circumvention of the law...using loopholes and never changing how things are done.)
Supporters point out that 29 other states have created a similar program.(And how has that been working for them?)
Newell says rather than play the blame game, it’s time for lawmakers and state departments to take action. (I suppose a little grandstanding does put a few more people to sleep and give cover to those who need it.)“For years there has been finger pointing from and to all parties: the state; the counties; the advocates; the providers; and it is finally time to put down our fingers and join hands and band together for the solution to help children, to stop the blame game and come together to be part of the solution in protecting kids,” she said. (And now in song: "God Bless America...Land of the Free...Stand beside them...or hide them...kids will die...in the hands...of the state.)
Gotta go...so many taxes to vote "NO" on today. :o)