A State Email Account for Reporting Suspected Child Abuse Went Unchecked for Four Years

A Colorado state email account created to receive suspected child abuse cases was unchecked for four years, missing cases requiring investigation.

What We Know:

  • In 2015, the state created a child abuse and neglect hotline with the associated email address, hccc@state.co.us. But, this email was quickly changed because it was in the wrong format. The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) immediately created a second email address, cdhs_hccc@state.co.us, for the hotline but failed to delete or disable the first email account. So the initial email has been active but not checked since its creation in 2015.
  • CDHS has acknowledged they missed cases of neglected children over the last four to five years by failing to check the email account responsible for the reports. The department realized in mid-May the email had been neglected with 321 unanswered emails, 104 of which were related to “expressed concerns of child abuse or neglect,” and five of which will be investigated with immediate attention.
  • Director of the CDHS’s Office of Children and Families, Minna Castillo-Cohen said her department did not know the email account existed until May, and that the five cases she will investigate include child neglect. “It’s of great concern that we had five that did not reach the level of attention they needed in a timely way,” Castillo-Cohen said.
  • The program for reporting child abuse and neglect also includes a 24-hour hotline that can be reached at 1-844-CO-4-KIDS; the hotline launched along with a Colorado Child Abuse Neglect Public Awareness Campaign to “engage all Coloradans in the prevention of child abuse.”

Cohen offered no further information about the details of the five investigations.