Child protection goal of new program

Montezuma County among limited venues

Families in Montezuma County and two Ute Indian tribes are included in a new program to keep children out of the child protective services system.

The program was announced Monday, Sept. 30, by Reggie Bicha, executive director of the Colorado Department of Human Services.

“Prevention of future problems is the goal,” said Julie Krow, director of the department’s Office of Children, Youth and Families.

Fifteen mainly rural counties, including Montezuma, Dolores, La Plata and San Juan, and the Southern Ute Indian and Ute Mountain Ute tribes, were selected for the SafeGuard Colorado program.

The goal is to counsel 600 families a year for three years. The state is putting up $1.9 million for first-year costs.

The program involves home visitations to families with newborn to 5-year-old children who have shown indications — but not reportable incidents — of possible neglect or abuse.

Once-a-week sessions of 90 minutes will be given for 15 to 20 weeks. Behavioral training sessions will concentrate on child health, parenting and home safety.

Participation will be voluntary on the part of target families.

The Department of Human Services is partnering with the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect at Children’s Hospital, counties, referral agencies and providers.

Kempe Center trainers will prepare those making home visitations. SafeCare originated at Georgia State University in 1979,

“If the program shows the results we expect, we’d like to keep it going,” Krow said. “We hope it would become a best-practices program.”