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Concerns about child abuse and neglect in Colorado continue to rise

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DENVER (Jan. 10, 2019) — The Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline 1-844-CO-4-KIDS (1-844-264-5437) saw a record number of calls in 2018 (221,969 in 2018 as compared to a previous high of 211,554 in 2017). Thanks to concerned Coloradans who made these calls, local county social services agencies assessed the safety of more than 57,042 children last year. Of those children, 13,289 children experienced abuse or neglect and an additional 12,787 children’s families received voluntary support from social services to help strengthen their families to help prevent child abuse or neglect in the future.   

The high number of calls to the hotline in 2018 marks the end of the fourth year of a public awareness campaign by the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS), and more than 150 local government and community partners, to promote the hotline and educate Coloradans on their role in preventing child abuse and neglect.

“It may seem strange that the continued growth in the number of calls reporting concerns is very encouraging,” said Minna Castillo-Cohen, director of the Office of Children, Youth and Families at CDHS. “However, it means that more and more people understand that all Coloradans play a role in preventing abuse and neglect. Sadly, children in Colorado continue to experience abuse and reporting can’t be the only way Colorado is working to help build communities that strengthen families and prevent child abuse.”

A thriving community supports parents, and in turn, prevents child abuse. Families who can meet their own basic needs for food, clothing, housing, and transportation — and who know how to access essential services such as childcare, health care, and mental health services to address family-specific needs — are better able to ensure the safety and well-being of their children. 

While out-of-home placements are necessary, in some cases, to protect the children, most children and teens who receive help through child welfare services are not removed from their homes. In fact, in 2018, of the 20,814 Colorado children and their families involved in an open child welfare case:

  • 68 percent of children and youth received services in their own homes
  • 32 percent of children and youth were placed in an out-of-home placement (kinship care, foster care, group home or residential treatment facility)

Designed to provide one easy-to-remember phone number for individuals to use statewide to report suspected child abuse, neglect or child sex trafficking, the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline serves as a direct, immediate and efficient route to Colorado’s 64 counties and two tribal nations. All callers are able to speak with a call-taker 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Calls to the hotline are routed to the appropriate county through the Hotline County Connection Center in Lamar, Colo. While the counties and tribal nations are ultimately responsible for responding to child abuse, neglect referrals, 38 counties now rely entirely on the Hotline County Connection Center to screen their calls, enabling those counties to focus their resources on connecting with and providing services to those families in need of help.

“The fact that more than half of Colorado’s counties now believe strongly enough in the Hotline County Connection Center to trust them to screen all of their child abuse, neglect and child sex trafficking inquiries and reports represents a wonderful vote of confidence in our system,” said Castillo-Cohen. “Many of these counties are smaller in population and therefore have fewer staff members to cover large territories. Using the County Connection Center’s call screening process, resources and personnel are freed up to be boots on the ground in these counties, connecting directly with and supporting families in crisis.”

Learn more about the signs of child abuse and neglect, including signs that may be associated with child sex trafficking, and get involved to help the children and young people in your community by visiting Call 1-844-CO-4-KIDS (1-844-264-5437) to get help. If a child is in immediate danger, dial 911.