Dependency & Neglect
Dependency and neglect cases are initiated when the department of human
services receives a complaint of child abuse or neglect. These allegations
can result in the Department interviewing the accused, witnesses, and
the child(ren) can be removed from the home immediately.
When a child is taken away, it can be the most emotional and traumatic
experience imaginable for a parent. Cases occur where a child is wrongfully
separated from a parent due to false allegations or misjudgment by a social
worker assigned to the case. This can occur where evidence supporting
a claim of child abuse is scant, yet a social worker is inclined to report
that child abuse has occurred before doing a more thorough investigation
or interview process.
Dependency and neglect cases are serious and can result in months of separation,
or even in severe cases, the termination of one’s parental rights.
A child can be considered “dependent” or “neglected”
where a judge finds: that a parent has mistreated, abandoned or abused
a child (or the parent has allowed another person to do so); where a child
lacks sufficient care, safe environment, necessary education, or requisite
medical care; or where a child has run away from home or is beyond control
of the parent.
Certain professionals such as teachers, child care providers, doctors,
and nurses are obligated to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect.
However, it is also true that
anyone can voluntarily report a parent on allegations of child abuse or neglect.
The person reporting an allegation of abuse or neglect has immunity from
prosecution—whether the allegation turns out to be true or false—so
long as the report was made in good faith.
In the state of Colorado, allegations of abuse and neglect are taken very
seriously. Once a report is filed, Social Services may send case workers
to the child’s home to investigate. The case workers have the authority
to temporarily remove a child from the home and temporarily place them
in the care of a relative or foster care. Social Services case workers
may also initiate an action in court to terminate the responsible parent’s
parental rights and to place the child up for adoption.
If the state of Colorado determines that the allegation against a parent
is accurate, it can then list that parent’s name in the registry
of child abusers. If you face an allegation of child abuse or neglect,
or have received a letter saying your name is being placed in the registry
of child abusers, you should
contact an attorney right away.