Childcare advocates pushing for change in controversial caseworker law – KUNC

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Currently, if a child protection caseworker in Colorado gets caught falsifying records or lying about checking on children in one county, that person can still get a job in another county. Colorado law also says without a criminal case, a new employer does not have to be informed about that individual’s past behavior.

The Colorado Sun reporter Jennifer Brown joined KUNC’s Michael Lyle, Jr. to share more about her story and why this gap in the system has stirred controversy amongst some childcare advocates.

“What’s happening is there’s been a string of high profile cases in which case workers have been found to have falsified records,” said Brown. “I have to say that the vast majority of caseworkers are great people who got into this for the right reasons. But when these bad caseworkers come to light, it just shatters a lot of families.”

Brown said one of the biggest issues has been a failure to check on a child’s well being when they’re being asked to do so.

“There might be children out there who are in danger who aren’t being checked on,” said Brown. “Some of these caseworkers have been accused of just writing up fake documents saying like, ‘Oh, I went out to the little girl’s house and checked and none of that ever happened.’ And then you have families whose parents who are being accused of things in court that could end up with them losing their children.”

Brown said the issue has caught the attention of state officials.

“Last summer, there were 11 state lawmakers on it, and they discussed it at length,” said Brown. “The problem was there are many issues that needed to be addressed in the child welfare system, and the committee has limit on the number of bills they’re allowed to bring forth in session, and this one did not rise to the top.”

Brown added that the State Human Services Department has crafted a draft proposal on how to fix the law.

“They’ve got several child advocacy groups weighing in, including the Child Protection ombudsman,” said Brown. “It’s just a matter of what they’ll agree on. They see things from different points of view, but it should be fixed so that caseworkers can no longer just keep their certification and keep changing counties whenever they’re caught doing something wrong.”

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