Child Protection Ombudsman hosts first meeting of Timothy Montoya Task Force

Group begins two-year project to address youth running away from out-of-home placements

The Office of Colorado’s Child Protection Ombudsman hosted the first meeting of the new Timothy Montoya Task Force to Prevent Children from Running Away from Out-of-Home Placement on Wednesday.

“As we sit here today, there are many youth on the run who have not been located,” said Colorado’s Child Protection Ombudsman Stephanie Villafuerte. “When youth run, they are in danger. They not only can get hurt but they can die.”

Named after 12-year-old Timothy Montoya who was hit and killed by a car shortly after running away from his out-of-home placement in June 2020, the task force will spend the next two years studying runaway behaviors to develop a consistent, prompt and effective response for youth who run away from foster care and residential child care facilities.

Timothy’s mother and task force member Elizabeth Montoya began the meeting by sharing her son’s story.

“There are so many things that we can address here,” she said. “Over the next two years, I hope that we will find ways to keep our kids safe. So many kids are out there running and many more than Timmy have passed away or gotten themselves in horrible situations.”

The meeting included two groups of guest speakers who shared their lived experiences with the issue. Foster parents and child protection professionals on the first panel spoke to youth running away from their care and the perspective that gave them. The second panel featured adults who ran away from their out-of-home placements as children and they discussed their individual experiences in the child protection system and what caused them to run.

A recording of the complete meeting will be made available on the Office of Colorado’s Child Protection Ombudsman YouTube Channel.

The next meeting of the task force is scheduled for 8:00 a.m. (MST), on November 2, and will be open to the public.