County opposes state ‘takeover’ of human services

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The El Paso Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution Friday opposing a plan to relinquish control of its human services program to the state.

The idea was proposed by the Governor’s Child Welfare Action Committee.

The BOCC joined 63 other counties in opposition to the moved characterized by Commissioner Wayne Williams as a “takeover” of local human services by the state.

“The Governor’s plan would put more children in harms way, cost the El Paso County taxpayers more and citizens would lose their accessibility to local decision makers in favor of a state bureaucracy,” said Commissioner Wayne Williams.

Williams and DHS liaison commissioner Sallie Clark said they were both concerned that quality of care would suffer if abuse and neglect cases were left to a state.

Currently in Colorado child protection is county administered and state supervised.  Data collected by the National Center for Abuse and Neglect Data Systems has shown that children are actually more likely to suffer from abuse or neglect in a state with a state administered system than in a state with a county administered system.  In county administered systems in 2005 there were 1.79 fatalities per 100,000 children.  In state administered systems in 2005 there were 2.13 fatalities per 100,000 children.

“Local partnerships help us keep costs in check while also providing a more accountable system.  The current system allows us to deliver our human services programs required by state and federal mandates rather than moving complete control to an entirely state-run system which is clearly a step in the wrong direction when it comes to responsive local services.”

The Governor’s Child Welfare Action Committee made 29 recommendations last fall. Twenty seven of them were agreed upon by most Colorado Counties and are currently being implemented statewide.  State control of all of Human Services and a state centralized call center are the two recommendations most counties have opposed.