Colorado Department of Human Services' child abuse hotline turns 1; Is it working?

DENVER - The statewide hotline to report child abuse in Colorado turns one on January 1. And one year in, officials at the State Department of Human Services say the hotline is streamlining the reporting process, but they need more people to actually call.

"Our job first and foremost is to make sure families have support to keep kids safe in their homes," Joe Homlar of Denver Child Welfare Services said.

The calls come into various call centers and offices, like one in Denver, where the information is taken, and the cases are sent directly to those who can help.

"Yearly we anticipate about 20,000 calls for the whole year," Homlar added. "Generally those are calls about  neglect. Children coming to school without a meal, children coming to school with dirty clothing or unsupervised the night before."

And one phone number helps make things simpler for the state and for the callers.

"Going through the hotline helps us to filter which county does that call belong to, so it's a much more streamlined process," Laura Solomon of the Colorado Division of Child Welfare said.

In the process, the state can compile valuable statistics about abuse and neglect in Colorado.

"Is there a spike in a certain month, does it drop in another month, how does that help the county staff appropriately to take the calls?" Solomon added.

While it gives people one easy place to call, 1-844-CO-4-KIDS, a majority of reporting is still made to other places like law enforcement or directly to the county. Only 12 percent of calls this year actually came through the hotline.

So the state is making another push. If you see something, call. The professionals can make the decisions from there.

"We wound encourage anyone who has any concern to make a call to the hotline and let us figure out if it meets the criteria of neglect and abuse," Solomon said. 

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