Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ritter Appoints Initial Members of Child Welfare Committee

Gov. Bill Ritter announced the appointments today of 23 Coloradans to a new Child Welfare Action Committee, which will recommend improvements to Colorado’s child-protection system following 13 child deaths at the end of 2007 and beginning of 2008.

Ritter established the action committee by executive order in April and through follow-up legislation – House Bill 1404, sponsored by Rep. Debbie Stafford, D-Aurora, and Sen. Moe Keller, D-Arvada – in May. The committee will deliver interim recommendations to Ritter by Oct. 31 and a final report by Dec. 31, 2009.

The action committee’s first meeting is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the Doubletree Denver North, 8773 Yates Drive, Westminster. All meetings will be held at this location, and all meetings will end with a public comment period.

“I am pleased to announce these appointments today so this committee can get to work,” Ritter said. “When it comes to protecting our most vulnerable children – those in foster care, those who have suffered abuse or neglect – the status quo is no longer acceptable.”

Appointees include Stafford, Lincoln County Commissioner Steve Burgess, Larimer County Commissioner Kathay Rennels, 17th Judicial District Court Judge Katherine Delgado, Cyril “Skip” Barber of Denver, Phyllis J. Bigpond of Aurora, Shirley Chapman of Denver, Kenneth Crichlow of Denver, Barbara Drake of Colorado Springs, Linda Fairbairn of Lamar, John Faught of Denver, Megan Ferland of Evergreen, Mary W. Lewis of Aurora, Jose Mondragon of Pueblo, Adrienne Pederson of Arvada, Patricia Schene of Littleton, Barbara Shaklee of Denver, Shari Shink of Denver, Theresa Spahn of Denver, Deborah Valentine of Fort Collins, and Dr. Kathryn Wells of Denver. The executive directors of the Department of Public Health and Environment and Department of Health Care Policy and Financing also will serve on the action committee.

The committee will:

1. analyze Colorado's current state-supervised/county-administered child-welfare system to determine whether this system is most effective in protecting children;

2. examine the quality and quantity of training that child-protection caseworkers should receive;

3. recommend ways to make the system more responsive to people reporting child maltreatment;

4. explore the role that independent oversight committees can play in ensuring that human service agencies are held accountable, and recommend how these bodies can be incorporated into Colorado's child-welfare system; and

5. develop recommendations as to how public/private partnerships can improve the services and care provided to children who reside within the welfare system.