(June 5) – A bipartisan bill by Rep. Tony Exum Sr. to prevent child abuse and neglect and promote healthy families by promoting the sharing of information between state and local agencies and military installations was signed into law this afternoon by Gov. John Hickenlooper.
“Right now, some children within the military community who are neglected or abused do not receive the services and support they need,” said Rep. Exum, D-Colorado Springs. “This legislation aims to stop that from happening, while promoting healthy families. This new law is particularly important in my district, which is home to many men and women in uniform and their families. No child who is neglected or abused should fall through the cracks.”
Under current law, county caseworkers are not required to track information about the military affiliation of persons being investigated in connection with a child welfare case, nor are they required to share information with the command authority of military installations about child welfare investigations. This leads to gaps in support and services for families within the military.
SB17-028 requires the Colorado Department of Human Services to change that by collecting information concerning the military affiliation of any person who is involved in an investigation of child abuse or neglect and provide the command authority of a military installation with notice of reports of known or suspected child abuse. It also clarifies that DHS and county departments may enter into memoranda of understanding with the command authority of military installations to establish protocols with respect to suspected instances of child abuse and neglect, ensuring military families are getting the support they need.
The bill, which was co-sponsored by Rep. Dan Nordberg, R-Colorado Springs, and Sen. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, was supported by various county human services agencies, the Department of Defense, and the Kempe Foundation. The bill passed both chambers with only a single vote opposed.