After the initial investigation, different things may happen. It may be determined that the home is safe for the children, or there is not sufficient evidence to open a case at that time. In those situations no case will be opened after the initial 30-60 day investigative period. If it is determined the children are not safe or there are sufficient risk factors in the home to warrant further monitoring of the situation, Child Protective Services may request that the County Attorney’s Office file what is called a Petition in Dependency and Neglect (D&N) through the court. This petition basically states that Child Protective Services believes further intervention or monitoring is needed in order to help keep the children safe.
Through the D&N, Child Protective Services can request Protective Supervision of the child(ren), which means that the child(ren) remain in their home and a case is opened to provide court-ordered services and oversight to the family. Child Protective Services can also request Custody of the child(ren) if it is believed the child(ren) need to be removed from their home in order to be safe. Custody can be granted by a Judge or Magistrate to Child Protective Services on an emergency basis or through a non-emergent Dependency and Neglect Petition. If an investigation is initiated and it is felt that the children are in immediate danger, law enforcement can also take emergency protective custody of children.
If children go into foster care, Child Protective Services first researches all possible safe family or kin options for the children. Kin can also include emotional kin, who may not be related by blood but are individuals to whom the children have a close relationship. If children go into kinship care, Child Protective Services usually retains temporary custody of the children and the kin would become like foster parents.
Sometimes an allegation may be Unfounded but the family may request help accessing services or there may be some risk factors in the home to indicate possible abuse or neglect in the future. In those cases, Child Protective Services may either help the family hook into community resources, may open a voluntary case to provide services to the family, or may make recommendations to alleviate risk factors and open a case to monitor that recommendations are followed or risk factors are alleviated in some other way.
Parents or legal guardians of children can request voluntary services for their child(ren) through the Mesa County Department of Human Services. A child protection investigation is NOT required in order for families to access voluntary services, and because the services are voluntary, it is required that a parent or legal guardian request them. Most often these services are provided to families where a child may be having behavioral difficulties and parents either do not know where to turn for help or do not have money or resources for help. Voluntary services may include:
- Family Therapy
- Behavioral Coaching/Mediation
- Parenting Skills
- Life Skills
- Home Based Services
The Community Child Protection Team (CPT):
The CPT meets weekly and is comprised of individuals in the community and from various community agencies and organizations. The group is designated in CRS 19-3-308(6)(a) of the Colorado Children’s Code, and they are charged with the responsibility of reviewing the process for child protection referrals and assessments. Every week this community team evaluates all referrals during the week that come into the Child Protection Hotline and are assigned for investigation, as well as all investigative summaries where there is inconclusive or confirmed child abuse and/or neglect. The team is designed to help ensure that Child Protective Services stays on target with their responsibility to help protect children in the community.