Local News

Identifying child neglect

Social services protocol

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - In Pueblo, neighbors of a child shooting victim said they had reported concerns to the Department of Social Services, but nothing happened.

"The system itself puts limits on the individuals and only allows them to do so much," said Pueblo resident Matthew Hernandez.

If he and his wife Melissa could go back in time they would.

But if you're trying to identify child neglect, social services tells us it's not easy, even as the investigation begins.

"A lot of times people in touch make reports, and feel like nothing's happening," said Tim Hart, director of the Department of Social Services. "In fact, behind the scenes, there could be a lot of things happening they just don't know about."

Case workers in Pueblo alone, have been assigned to 346 investigations in the last six months. Those tend to be joint investigations with police.

"Any case that the police department is made aware of, we will respond to immediately," said Troy Davenport, deputy chief of Pueblo Police Department.

If further investigation is needed, those kids are often brought to the Children's Advocacy Center.

They walk in a very friendly environment, kids usually go straight for the toys and start playing," said Dena Rodriguez, executive director of Pueblo Children's Advocacy Center. "Our goal is to make sure they're most comfortable here."

Those investigators can watch and record an interview from a separate room. Different investigators can watch from a separate room.

But police still say it's a community effort.

"If you're in doubt, and you have concern that a child is not in a safe environment, call police," Davenport said.

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