The Denver Post

Auditor praises nonprofit

Auditor: Staffers’ records lacking

- By Jennifer Brown

More than half of Denver child-welfare caseworker­s could not prove they had passed required background checks during a recent review, the city auditor said Thursday.

Of the 60 caseworker­s and supervisor­s whose paperwork was requested, 57 percent had missing or incomplete documentat­ion regarding background checks.

Caseworker­s, who investigat­e reports of child abuse and neglect, are required to pass background checks that scour state and local court records, driving records and previous involvemen­t with the child-welfare system.

“Those who protect our smallest citizens and our aging loved ones must be held to high standards, and that includes proof of background checks,” City Auditor Timothy O’Brien said in a news release announcing the findings.

Human Services director Don Mares said he’s confident all caseworker­s have passed background checks and that the department is addressing documentat­ion issues.

“We take our charge as a child welfare agency to help kids impacted by abuse and neglect and to strengthen families very seriously and welcome these recommenda­tions. That starts by increasing transparen­cy and access to our work,” Mares said in a statement. “We agree with all the findings and recommenda­tions of the audit.”

Auditors also found problems with a policy to automatica­lly investigat­e allegation­s involving children under age 5 if the family has been the subject of two prior abuse or neglect calls within the previous 14 months. “The policy has not been adequately implemente­d due to poor policy developmen­t and staff training,” the auditor said.

Human services officials agreed to the auditor’s recommenda­tions and have plans to improve background check documentat­ion and staff training. The department began using a contractor in 2016 to meet background check requiremen­ts.

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