How it works: Moffat County Department of Human Services Part 2 – Child Support Services | CraigDailyPress.com

How it works: Moffat County Department of Human Services Part 2 – Child Support Services

Members of the Moffat County Department of Human Services Child Welfare team stand with county commissioners and state officials during a celebration of their outstanding performance in initial response to urgent reports of child abuse and neglect.

Editor's note: In part two of our new monthly feature called "How it Works," we continue our interview with Director of the Moffat County Department of Human Services Dollie Rose to learn more about services provided to children.

Craig Press: How does DHS protect the welfare of children?

Dollie Rose: Child Welfare is composed of a specialized set of services that strengthen the ability of the family to protect and care for their own children, minimize harm to children and youth and ensure timely permanency planning. Services stabilize the family situation and strengthen the family's capacity to care for their children. When safety is not possible within the family, services focus on the child's need for a stable, permanent home as quickly as possible.

CP: What is child abuse? Neglect?

Rose: While each person could hold their own personal definition about abuse, it is outlined in C.R.S. 19-1-103 that states, in part "… a child exhibits evidence of skin bruising, bleeding, malnutrition, failure to thrive, burns, fracture of any bone, subdural hematoma, soft tissue swelling or death and either: such condition or death is not justifiably explained … the child is subjected to unlawful sexual behavior … emotional abuse …"

Neglect is statutorily defined in C.R.S. 19-3-102 that states, in part "a parent, guardian or legal custodian has abandoned the child or has subjected him or her to mistreatment or abuse or a parent, guardian, or legal custodian has suffered or allowed another to mistreat or abuse the child without taking lawful means to stop such mistreatment or abuse and prevent it from recurring; the child lacks proper parental care; … the environment is injurious to his or her welfare; a parent, guardian, or legal custodian fails or refuses to provide the child with proper or necessary subsistence, education, medical care or any other care necessary for his or her health, guidance, or well-being …"

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The definitions and standards are lengthy. I would encourage anyone interested in learning more to look up the statute. The department follows these statutory definitions.

CP: When and how should a person report suspected case of child abuse or neglect?

Rose: A report should be made any time there is suspected abuse or neglect. When in doubt, please call the hotline and make the report. To make a report of suspected abuse or neglect, please call 1-844-CO-4-Kids or 1-844-264-5437.

CP: Once a report has been made, what happens next?

Rose: The Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline transfers the referral to the appropriate county DHS. The county DHS is then notified of the referral and conducts a RED (review, evaluate, direct) team. A RED team is a framework that is used to organize all of the information in a report of alleged abuse or neglect. It ensures that the participants are making an informed choice by looking over all the information in order to determine if the referral meets the criteria for acceptance, as defined by law. If the report meets the criteria for acceptance, a caseworker is assigned to complete an assessment.


CP: When does the hotline and RED team operate?

Rose: The hotline is available 24 hours a day. Once the hotline referral is completed it's sent to our on-call caseworker. We have a caseworker and supervisor on-call at all times. If the referral is deemed to need an immediate response then the caseworker will go out on it right away. By statute, for immediate response, we have up to eight hours, but we do try to get out to see the child right away. Otherwise, for three-day and five-day responses, we hold RED team meetings every morning Monday through Thursday.

CP: At what point are children removed from a home? What happens next?

Rose: The department cannot unilaterally decide to remove a child and the requirements for removing a child are determined by C.R.S. 19-3-401 and usually have to be decided by a judge. Any removal of a child is hopefully temporary as the department continues to work with the family to have the child returned to the home. Only after reasonable efforts are made and safety is not possible within the family, services focus on the child's need for a stable, permanent home as quickly as possible.

CP: What is the biggest misconception of the child welfare work done by DHS?

Rose: In my opinion, I would say the biggest misconception of the work done by child welfare is that we want to take their children away. The reality is that we do everything we can to keep the children in their home safely. A close second is that people believe being involved with the department means they will lose their children. We have a number of cases where the family is actively working with the department while the children remain at home.

CP: What else would you like readers to know about MCDHS?

Rose: Our commitment is to leverage funding to maximize services to assist individuals and families in reaching goals. Our services promote safety and self-sufficiency by strengthening family functions and encouraging personal growth for a stronger community.

CP: Are there fewer people needing services now than a few years ago?

Rose: MCDHS is willing to share and does share data/results with the public on a monthly basis in public Board of County Commissioners meetings. In the last 2.5 years, the department has had a significant shift in practice with the change in our leadership, mission and vision statements. Due to additional programs and prevention based services throughout the community, the department has seen a decrease in the caseload sizes, overall.

Since 2012, the following caseloads have decreased in size: SNAP, Medicaid, Adult Financial, Child Care Assistance Program, Child Welfare Dependency and Neglect Cases and Youth in Conflict Cases.

MCDHS has had a 41 percent decrease in the number of children being served for Youth in Conflict since 2012 and a 33 percent decrease in the number of children being served under Child Welfare Dependency and Neglect Cases since 2012.

The department started offering Preventative Services in 2016. Currently, 41 children and 28 families are utilizing these services.

The self-sufficiency caseload numbers from 2016 to 2017 indicate an 11.8 percent decrease in the overall caseload size.

CP: What would our community be like if MCDHS didn't exist?

Rose: There would be a lack of voluntary support services and a lack of funding for support services for the people of Moffat County. Economically, there would be a major impact to Moffat County as the overall MCDHS 2018 approved budget is a little more than $5.8 million.

The majority of this budget is funded from state and federal government taxes redirected to Moffat County to provide mandated services. The funding provides services, programs and eligibility benefits and contributes to the local economy.

Without these necessary community supports, it would be difficult for individuals and families to meet their basic needs. In addition, children would be at a higher risk of being abused and neglected, as funding and services to mitigate safety concerns would be limited. This could have a number of negative results for Moffat County, including a higher crime rate, a decrease in the economy and lack of community programs and supports.

CP: Anything else you would like readers to know that might help them understand how it works?

Rose: The majority of programs at MCDHS are based upon federal and state rules and regulations and do not allow for county-level flexibility.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.

Background

The Moffat County Department of Human Services provides the following services to support children and/or families.

Child Support Unit

  • Locate obligor parents
  • Establish paternity, support
  • Medical coverage
  • Enforce collection

For more information visit childsupport.state.co.us

Child Welfare Unit

  • Prevention Services
  • Adoptions
  • Relinquishment counseling
  • Adult Protective Assessments and Services
  • Child Protective Abuse and Neglect Assessments and Services
  • Foster Home Certification
  • Youth in Conflict
  • Delinquent Youth
  • Core Services:
    Intensive Family Treatment
    Home Based Services
    Day Treatment
    Sexual Abuse Treatment
    Life Skills
    Mental Health/ADAD
    Special Economic Assistance

For program eligibility and to apply for benefits online please visit coloradopeak.secure.force.com

The Department is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding county-observed holidays. Any individual in need of assistance should contact the department at 970-824-8282 or stop by the office at 595 Breeze St.

To report suspected child or adult abuse/neglect, call 844-CO-4-Kids or 1-844-264-5437.