Third Party Policy and Practice Review, Denver Department of Human Services

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Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) and Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF)

The recent abuse-related deaths of local children “known to the system” spurred Denver to review how well its welfare system investigates and intervenes in abuse and neglect cases. (See related story, page 12.) This commissioned report by CWLA and AECF senior consultants found several problems, including many that involve caseworker behavior. It says, for instance, that parents and youth “expressed deep concern about the uncaring, judgmental and hostile caseworkers with whom they have had interactions.”

The team recommended that Denver interview more people in the course of each investigation, including all members of the household and “especially significant others,” such as boyfriends. The report ties Denver’s difficulties to its effort to preserve families while trying to ensure children’s safety, and says a process must be implemented to ensure that caseworkers understand how to best assess the risks for, and not just safety of, youth who are allegedly abused. Free, 45 pages. (410) 547-6600,