Issue Brief

2023 Colorado Child Welfare System Interim Study Committee Issue Brief

Every year, the Office of Colorado’s Child Protection Ombudsman (CPO) reviews more than 1,000 cases, each of which are brought to the agency by citizens with a concern, frustration or question regarding the state’s child welfare system. By design, the CPO is charged with independently assessing these concerns and helping citizens gain clarity regarding these systems. Unlike any other agency in Colorado, the CPO is uniquely positioned in state government to impartially study the child welfare system, through the perspective of the people it impacts.

Since its inception as an independent agency, the CPO has received thousands of cases from parents, youth, siblings, extended family and professionals connected to child welfare systems. Those cases have revealed systemic issues impacting the safety and well-being of children and families in Colorado. They have also highlighted a pervasive erosion of the public trust in child welfare systems in the state.

While the CPO is charged with looking at all entities that serve children and families in Colorado, this committee has specifically requested information regarding issues with how child welfare services are administered in the state. During the past seven years, the CPO has identified, studied and reported on many of these issues. As such, the CPO is providing four issues currently impacting the child welfare system in Colorado. The CPO has provided a summary of each issue and possible legislative solutions for the committee’s consideration.