In 2012, the "Keeping Kids Safe and Families Healthy" child welfare plan detailed a common practice approach for Colorado's 64 counties and two tribal nations designed to strengthen the state's child welfare system. The plan included the development of a statewide hotline to provide one phone number to report suspected child abuse or neglect.
House Bill 13-1271, signed into law in May 2013, authorized the creation of a steering committee tasked with developing:
- A recommendation and implementation plan for a statewide hotline reporting system
- A recommendation for a corresponding public awareness campaign
- Recommendations for rules relating to the operation of the system and consistent practices for responding to reports and inquiries.
Committee members engaged in a process to develop a child abuse and neglect hotline reporting system in which every caller's concern is documented, and no child falls through the cracks.
About the hotline system
The Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline, 844-CO-4-Kids, became operational on January 1, 2015. The hotline is designed to provide one, easy-to-remember toll-free phone number for individuals to use statewide to report suspected child abuse and neglect.
The hotline serves as a direct, immediate and efficient route to the counties, which are responsible for accepting and responding to child abuse and neglect inquiries and reports. All hotline calls will be routed to the county where a child resides.
The hotline system enables CDHS to capture critical information that it has not previously been able to track on a statewide basis, such as:
- Number of calls received
- Call volume
- Call duration
- Speed of answer
- Wait time
- Call transfers
- Abandonment rate
This data is critical to ensuring that calls across the state are handled quickly and appropriately.
Counties will maintain their current practices of receiving reports of abuse and neglect, but to ensure proper routing, each county must have a dedicated line for child abuse and neglect reporting. Calls made directly to a county's dedicated line will also be routed through the hotline system for data collection purposes. This process is automated and seamless and does not require putting a caller on hold or cause any delay in answering calls.
An ongoing statewide public awareness campaign engages all Coloradans in the prevention of child abuse and neglect and promotes the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline.
How the hotline system works
- The main purpose of the hotline is to quickly route callers to the appropriate county. Callers will be asked to speak the name of the county where the child resides and then will be connected to that county.
- Callers who are not sure of the county, speak a language other than English or Spanish, or are deaf or hard of hearing will be directed to a Hotline County Connection Center representative who will assist them in identifying the appropriate county.
- The Hotline County Connection Center is located in Prowers County and is staffed 24/7, 365 days/year by trained call-takers, certified annually through the Colorado Child Welfare Training System.
- All callers will be connected with the appropriate county to speak with a call-taker who is trained and certified to use a screening guide designed to drive a structured process for interviewing callers who are reporting concerns of child abuse and neglect.
- All callers may remain anonymous and reports will remain confidential.