More than 40 percent of the children who died of abuse and neglect in the last six years in Colorado had families or caregivers known to child protection workers who could have saved them, reports the Denver Post. Those 72 children – many beaten, starved, suffocated or burned – died despite warnings from relatives, neighbors, teachers and strangers, or even the baby monitor recording of blatant abuse sent to caseworkers. Many of their deaths were not only preventable, they were foretold, the paper reports in an eight-part investigation, “Failed to Death.”
It happens, on average, every 30 days. Somewhere in Colorado, a police officer investigates a child’s death from abuse and neglect only to learn the victim is a familiar face to county social workers. Nine such kids have died so far this year. The paper’s investigation revealed a pattern of disturbing failures in which warnings were ignored, cases closed without even a visit and children given to foster parents who killed them. Caseworkers and their supervisors failed to complete investigations in the time required by law 18 times before children ended up dead. The system is plagued by a lack of accountability and transparency. Every county in Colorado decides how to run its own child protection department, with minimal input from the state. Despite years of warnings, Colorado’s $375 million system to protect kids from dying remains stubbornly broken.