Colorado Launches Child Protection Ombudsman Program
Thursday, June 09, 2011
Posted by: Taylor Stockdell
(Denver) The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) has selected the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC) to provide a child protection ombudsman program for the State of Colorado. The program was authorized by the General Assembly in 2010.
The Ombudsman Program will facilitate a process for independent and impartial review of family and community concerns, issues and case-related complaints; make recommendations to improve the child welfare system; and promote better outcomes for children and families. The Ombudsman will serve as a key advisor concerning issues relating to child safety and child protection in Colorado by virtue of the responsibility and authority to make advisory recommendations to CDHS, county commissioners, the Governor and the General Assembly based upon the Ombudsman’s findings and expertise.
In awarding the contract to NACC, Colorado Department of Human Services Executive Director Reggie Bicha said, " I look forward to NACC providing another avenue for Colorado children to be better protected from abuse and neglect and giving a voice to the families impacted by the child welfare system so they receive the high quality services they need.”
NACC is a multi disciplinary non-profit advocacy and membership association located at the Kempe Center on the Anschutz Campus in Aurora, Colorado. The NACC has approximately 2500 members around the nation and a 17 person Board of national experts who work in the areas of child protection as well as delinquency. The stated mission of the NACC, in part, is to improve the lives of children and families by improving Courts and Agencies serving children particularly those children involved in the child welfare system.
Maureen Farrell-Stevenson is the President and CEO of the National Association of Counsel for Children. According to NACC’s successful bid for the award, Farrell - Stevenson has both the professional background and experience as well as the managerial and administrative skills to support the Ombudsman in the development and implementation of the Program. Becky Miller Updike will serve as the Child Protection Ombudsman. Updike brings 16 years experience in child and family policy and advocacy, and is a Ph.D. Candidate in Child & Family Leadership at the University of Denver. Updike's experience includes advocacy and research for several non-profit organizations in the child welfare, judicial, education and child care systems.
State Senator Linda Newell, key sponsor of the legislation authorizing Colorado’s Child Protection Ombudsman program, commented, "Every child in this state deserves to grow up safe and healthy. I’m proud of the work we have done to protect kids in Colorado, and I am even more proud to see this day come. We are taking the right steps to ensuring no child is ever allowed to fall through the cracks. This office will be a beacon of light for abused and neglected children, and I am confident that the NACC is the right organization to lead it.”
The NACC was awarded the contract for the Ombudsman program in May 2011, and has begun working with system stakeholders to create procedures and protocols necessary to establish the office. The Ombudsman and staff will be traveling the state this summer on a Listening Tour to receive input from child welfare system stakeholders in preparation to begin investigations by the end of summer.
Those wishing to contact the Ombudsman can do so at 303-864-5321 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The $53,000 contract is for the remainder of fiscal year 2011; terms are being finalized for the 2012 fiscal year.
For more information, please contact:
CDHS Public Information Officer
Office: 303.866.5822 Cell: 303.748.6910