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 or children 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 take place when 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 the termination of one’s parental rights in severe cases. A child can be considered “dependent” or “neglected” if a judge finds: that a parent has mistreated, abandoned or abused a child (or the parent has allowed another person to do so); that 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.