State lawmakers will consider how to best keep an eye on Colorado’s child welfare system in a House committee meeting Friday.
Two bills are under consideration. The first would move Colorado’s child welfare watchdog out of the Department of Human Services, which runs the child protection system. A former ombudsman claims the DHS tried to interfere with her work.
After originally objecting to the idea, Gov. John Hickenlooper told the Denver Post he would not oppose moving the office to the judicial branch if the chief justice agrees.
"I'm happy to put it in the judicial if it matters so much, but I'm not sure it's necessary," Hickenlooper told the newspaper. "We all have the same goals. We want to make sure we give our children every protection we possibly can, and if the system is not working well, we want to fix it."
Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Boulder, is sponsoring the bipartisan bill.
"They need to know they can call a trusted outside resource. And when you have an ombudsman that sits inside the Department of Human Services, people hang up the phone when they hear that," Singer said.
A second bill would give local government auditors more access to human services records, allowing them to conduct their own investigations of child welfare and public assistance programs.