Colorado child protection caseworker under investigation for falsifying reports about checking on kids, at-risk adults |

Colorado child protection caseworker under investigation for falsifying reports about checking on kids, at-risk adults

The alleged fraud was uncovered after Moffat County fell behind on abuse and neglect reports, and the state sent in a team of 15 caseworkers to clean up the mess

Jennifer Brown / Colorado Sun
Suspected fraud by a Moffat County child protection caseworker led to one of the biggest reviews of case files in years as 15 caseworkers were sent to the rural northwestern Colorado county last summer.
Nina Riggio, Special to The Colorado Sun

At first, the child protection worker’s supervisor noticed missing notes in a handful of cases of alleged abuse and neglect. 

Then more cases looked suspicious, as if the caseworker’s details about checking on children and their families weren’t actually true. After an outside team — a crew of 15 caseworkers from nine counties — was dispatched to Craig to review her work, they discovered a pattern of fraudulent paperwork like nothing any of them had experienced in their careers, according to documents obtained by The Colorado Sun through public information requests. 

The out-of-town team, which was housed in a Craig hotel for two weeks, reviewed more than 250 cases involving alleged abuse or neglect of children or adults with disabilities. Of those, the team identified about 80 in which they had to start over from the beginning, knocking on doors and checking on suspected victims to determine if they were safe. 

In multiple cases, the child protection worker appeared to have fabricated details, including that she had checked on kids or interviewed parents or guardians, according to records from the Colorado Department of Human Services, which organized the outside team to review the cases.

The cases went back several months, raising questions about why the county didn’t detect there was a problem sooner.  

No children were found to have been injured or killed because of the shoddy casework, the records say. But memos and letters from the state child welfare division and the Colorado Child Protection Ombudsman’s Office obtained through the Colorado Open Records Act make it clear the rural county’s division of child welfare and adult protective services was overwhelmed. 

The Moffat County District Attorney’s Office confirmed it is investigating the matter, though charges have not yet been filed. The caseworker’s name was redacted from documents released by the state. 

State child welfare officials declined to discuss the case, citing the ongoing investigation. Moffat County Human Services Director Annette Norton called it a “personnel matter” and refused to answer questions.

But records show the state and the child protection ombudsman began taking a closer look at Moffat County in the summer and fall of 2019. 

A statewide performance-monitoring system, which scores county child welfare divisions on how well they respond to suspected cases of abuse or neglect and whether they make face-to-face contact with suspected victims within required timeframes, alerted state officials that Moffat County was slipping. 

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