Child Abuse on the Decline In Teller County

24-Hour Hotline and Prevention Programs Cited

Trevor Phipps

Child abuse reports have declined dramatically locally due to a partnership between a key Teller government agency and a nonprofit organization.

That’s according to a new report conducted by the OMNI Institute in partnership with the National Family Support Network and Casey Family Programs, highlighted at last week’s Teller County Commissioners meeting.

The report demonstrated how effective certain programs aimed at curbing child abuse within the county were working within a several year period. The report concluded that due to the partnership between the county’s Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Community Partnership Family Resource Center (CPFRC), cases of child abuse have been decreasing quite dramatically.

The report also concluded that the program, implemented by the CPFRC non-profit organization based in Divide, was helping save taxpayer dollars. Ever since 2015, the organization and the county have worked towards dealing with child abuse by establishing a 24 hour hotline and implementing other abuse prevention programs.

Earlier this month, a return on investment report was conducted to examine the programs put in place by the nonprofit and the county. More specifically, out of 165 family resource centers across the country, Teller County was chosen in a detailed study to determine how well the efforts to reduce child abuse worked between 2015 and 2018.

According to DHS Director Kim Mauthe, the findings of the report are good news for the county. “It’s exciting because the calls we did receive through our child abuse hotline show that we had a decrease of child abuse by 57 percent, which is huge and that is why we were selected,” Mauthe said. “They also found that for every dollar we spent in prevention, we saved 2.96 dollars in intervention. And it’s not all about the money but it’s about keeping families together in our community and not in our system because it is a hard system to work through.”

In 2014, CPFRC began partnering with DHS through the Colorado Community Response program. The statewide program was designed to create a referral pathway from child welfare systems to local community support resources.

Families that get contacted by DHS and are screened out of the system due to the nature of the call (such as there being no imminent safety threat) can get referred to the program. Families that get screened by DHS, but then have their cases closed, are also eligible for the program.

DHS refers these families that qualify to CPFRC, so that the organization can help them connect with community resources. Families can be eligible for one time financial assistance and financial coaching. They also are given access to family support services, aimed at increasing family strengths and parental knowledge.

The complex report,used several metrics to gauge how well the partnership was working. The report concluded that there was an estimated 63 percent reduction in the rate of child abuse in the county between 2015 and 2018.

The report also researched how much money the partnership and efforts of DHS and CPFRC saved taxpayers. It was found that for every dollar invested in CPFRC, the county saved $2.92 in child welfare services costs.

The report also stated that family resource centers across the country tend to save the taxpayers $2-$4 for every dollar invested in child maltreatment prevention programs. “Child maltreatment affects at least one in seven children in the United States annually,” the report said. “And, in 2015 the estimated cost of child abuse and neglect across the country was $428 billion.”

During the commissioners’ meeting, Mauthe was applauded by the commissioners. “Kudos for you for making that list and being highlighted as a key department and a key performance,” said Board Chairman Bob Campbell. “I know that bridging between your department and non-profit organizations is not an easy task with all of the various rules and organization structures. It is a big feat in my book.”