(April 9) – A key component of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s child welfare reform package began its march through the legislative process today when the House Public Health Care & Human Services voted 8-5 to support a statewide child abuse reporting hotline.
HB13-1271, sponsored by Reps. Jonathan Singer (D-Longmont) and Jenise May (D-Aurora), requires the Department of Human Services to develop the statewide hotline, enhancing the current county-based reporting system.
“Last year there were over 11,000 substantiated allegations of child abuse in Colorado,” Rep. Singer told the committee. “What this bill will do is assure that there’s consistent and comprehensive training for our front-line screeners.”
A statewide hotline was one of the proposals the governor made after a series of reports last year by The Denver Post and 9News reviewing the cases of 175 children in Colorado who have died of abuse and neglect since 2007. The reports showed a widespread failure by county child welfare caseworkers to follow state procedures regarding how to investigate neglect and abuse allegations.
“This will take some of the variables out of the process,” Rep. May said. “When the safety of our children is at stake, we can’t leave anything to chance.”
The bill now goes to the Appropriations Committee.