Posted inSun Investigation

With bites, bruises and low pay, caretakers for Colorado’s troubled youth say there’s not enough staff to keep kids — and each other — safe

Olivia Couch followed as the boy hopped two fences and climbed into a drainage ditch filled with water.  Her job was to keep the 12-year-old safe, and protocol at the residential treatment center was to “shadow” children who ran off campus but not restrain or block them. Couch had never given up on sticking with […]

Posted inSun Investigation

The deadly consequences when kids run away from Colorado residential treatment centers

In the places of last resort for Colorado’s most troubled kids, the doors are not locked.  And the children run.  They scale fences and slip through gates. They bolt from staff, who are not allowed to block or restrain them, and they roam city streets for hours or sometimes days.  Children and teens run away […]

Posted inColoradans, Housing, Politics and Government

Foster youth who leave the system as teens could return until age 21 under new Colorado proposal

Viviana Cervantes was released from foster care directly from a residential treatment center. Within a few months, she found herself in her college dorm room “with a bagful of psychiatric medication” she didn’t know how to manage. She had a $500-per-month stipend to help start life on her own, but little financial sense to use […]

Posted inColoradans, Health, News

Denver’s Tennyson Center to close its residential program after runaways, overdoses and child’s death

One of Colorado’s oldest homes for the most troubled foster children is closing its residential program after a series of dangerous lapses in care, including the death of a child who ran away and was struck by a car. Youth at Tennyson Center for Children in northwest Denver were able to break into a drug […]

Posted inOpinion, Opinion Columns

Rep. Lindsey Daugherty: Colorado must do more for its youth in foster care

Sitting on the sidelines has never been my strong suit. Long before I was elected to represent Colorado state House District 29, and even before I became an attorney, I have been harnessing my energy to advocate on behalf of others.  In fact, the first “clients” I ever represented were the girls at recess who […]

Posted inSun Investigation

Colorado child protection caseworker under investigation for falsifying reports about checking on kids, at-risk adults

At first, the child protection worker’s supervisor noticed missing notes in a handful of cases of alleged abuse and neglect.  Then more cases looked suspicious, as if the caseworker’s details about checking on children and their families weren’t actually true. After an outside team — a crew of 15 caseworkers from nine counties — was […]

Posted inOpinion, Opinion Columns

Opinion: Budget cuts create opportunities — child mental health and welfare should advance

Colorado projects a $3.1 billion shortfall this year, and the impact of more than 25% cuts to state spending will be felt across every community in the state. While the Joint Budget Committee is leading us through a necessary process to balance our budgets and stakeholders are pulling out their bullhorns and shifting to defense, […]

Posted inColoradans, COVID, Health, News

An army of volunteers is using Facetime, Zoom to protect Colorado foster kids during coronavirus

The call usually comes around 7 each night, while Sarah Sparks is watching a movie with her two daughters on the couch. She keeps her phone close so she doesn’t miss it. On the other end of the line is a 7-year-old girl, a foster child who lives in a Denver residential treatment center, a […]

Posted inOpinion, Opinion Columns

Opinion: No Colorado child should be forced to move between 17 homes to heal

Child welfare is undergoing a long-overdue overhaul. The Family First Prevention Services Act was passed by Congress and signed into law in February 2018 and is welcomed by most in child welfare.   Family First is set to be implemented in Colorado some time in 2020 and is premised on the long-held belief that children have […]