County opposes social-services takeover

Posted 7/30/10

Amid statewide discussion about who should control Colorado’s social-services system, the Arapahoe County Board of Commissioners has unanimously …

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County opposes social-services takeover


Amid statewide discussion about who should control Colorado’s social-services system, the Arapahoe County Board of Commissioners has unanimously passed a resolution to support continuation of a locally administered program.

The resolution expresses the county’s commitment to “excellence, quality improvement and enhanced accountability of local and state government in the delivery of human services.”

The board’s July action was in response to a recommendation last year by Gov. Bill Ritter’s Child Welfare Action Committee. It said an overhaul should be taken on Colorado’s state-supervised, county-administered human-services system.

County Commissioner Susan Beckman, R-Littleton, said the county board strongly believes that it is most logical for social services to be delivered by a local government rooted in a community, where there is a better understanding of the impact on families and children.

“Local governments have the ability to be more flexible and responsive to meet the needs our most vulnerable populations,” Beckman said.

The state committee report recommended establishing a centralized call system for reporting suspected abuse, the creation of a child-advocate office and stricter time frames for providing services to families who move to different jurisdictions.

The report also recommended that the state move to a hybrid organizational model, allowing for “regionalization of 53 counties to streamline and improve services.”

According to the committee, this model would require greater accountability of the state’s largest counties. The recommendation was based on a study by Policy Studies Inc. that said the current 64-county system is inefficient and fragmented.

According to Beckman, the Arapahoe County Human Services has worked hard to develop relationships with law enforcement agencies, mental healthcare providers, courts, nonprofits and other local governments.

In 2008, Arapahoe joined forces with Jefferson County to form a collaborative foster-care program to streamline resources and improve support for foster families and children.

Despite its rejection of a state-run system, the Arapahoe County Board of Commissioners has indicated support for 27 other recommendations of the Child Welfare Action Committee. The county says it is in partnership with the state and Colorado Counties Inc. to bring many of those recommendations to fruition.

Arapahoe County has already started using the new Child Welfare Caseworker Training Academy and is one of five counties involved in a related pilot project.

The county is also involved in an initiative of the Colorado Division of Child Welfare to build a new Child Welfare Practice Model to streamline how counties approach child-protection cases.

Ritter established the Child Welfare Action Committee in 2008 following the deaths of 13 children who had contact with the state’s child-welfare system.


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