With HB22-1240 Mandatory Reporters making its way through the Colorado legislature, an opportunity to transform how we approach ensuring child and family safety and well-being, including reducing disparities, is on the horizon for our state.
The bill highlights the importance of ensuring that individuals who are required to report child abuse or neglect have access to the resources necessary for doing so, including information regarding obligations and protections pursuant to the law, standardized training and materials, and specialized training to address and decrease the disproportionate impact on under-resourced communities.
Due to historic and ongoing systems of racism, oppression, and explicit/implicit bias, under-resourced communities, communities of color, and persons with disabilities are disproportionately impacted by the mandatory reporting system.
With the goal of creating a more equitable mandatory reporting system, the most recent version of HB22-1240 would establish a Task Force charged with:
- Analyzing best practices and recommending changes to training requirements and reporting procedures.
- Analyzing the effectiveness of mandatory reporting and its relationship with systemic issues, including the disproportionate impact of mandatory reporting on under-resourced communities, communities of color, and persons with disabilities.
Based on its findings, the Task Force may propose clarifications to the law and identify recommended changes to mandatory reporter training requirements and procedures for reporting child abuse or neglect.
Illuminate Colorado is excited about the potential that the efforts and recommendations of the Task Force have to shift the approach to addressing concerns for a child/family’s safety and well-being to be one that is more supportive.
As Katie Facchinello, Illuminate Colorado’s director of communications, shared during her testimony on the bill, “our organization hopes that we are moving forward in Colorado to embrace the idea that while we may not all be mandatory reporters, we should ALL be mandatory supporters. The improvements in this bill are greatly needed, but I would be remiss if I didn’t also encourage everyone to embrace the opportunities before us everyday to strengthen families, offer counsel and connection to a parent or caregiver beyond reporting our concerns. Making a call to report is no doubt a critical part of a functioning child welfare system, but is not all that is needed to create a 21st century system in Colorado where all children and families thrive – a Colorado where there are far fewer concerns about the well-being of a child to report.”
While we may not all be mandatory reporters, we should ALL be mandatory supporters.
Illuminate is grateful to the Child Protection Ombudsman of Colorado for their leadership on the stakeholding process and development of a bill that we hope will be a step in the right direction toward ensuring that families have what they need and disparities within the mandatory reporting system are reduced.
“Colorado’s mandatory reporting system is outdated, unresponsive to the times and it is not working as effectively as it should to protect our children from abuse and neglect. House Bill 22-1240 is a critical first step to addressing and assessing this system. If passed, this bill would require a diverse set of professionals and members of the community to examine the deep and complex issues that have plagued mandatory reporting for decades. These discussions will position Colorado to better support families, address disparities in how the system impacts communities of color, those with disability and our rural communities, and ultimately, determine how best to serve children when there is suspected abuse and neglect.”
Illuminate is particularly encouraged by the amendments that were made to the bill to prioritize prevention and improve efforts to ensure that recommendations are informed by those with lived experience by increasing the number of family voice seats required to be on the task force and adding a seat for a prevention expert.
At Illuminate, we firmly believe that families are the experts on their own experiences and are the ones who hold the best solutions to the challenges that they and their communities face. Furthermore, we believe that meaningfully involving those with lived experience on the topic at hand is the only way to create real and effective systems change.
We could not be more appreciative of our partners at Elephant Circle for leading advocacy efforts regarding the importance of increasing the involvement of those with lived experience.
“Mandatory reporting is important to many people and professionals, but most of all to families. That is why we wanted to make sure the new Mandatory Reporter Task Force includes people who have experienced reports as parents or kids. As we saw in testimony for this bill, there are a lot of people impacted by these laws and a lot of strong opinions. We wanted to make sure that members of the general public can attend Task Force meetings.”
As an organization, we are constantly working to learn and grow around engaging and following the leadership of families with lived experience related to the topics of systems-change initiatives that we help to convene. Visit the blog posts below to read more, learn alongside us, and hear directly from families about their experiences with and perspectives on engaging in systems-change efforts:
- Family Voice Makes a Difference Illuminating Systemic Change
- Has your family been impacted by substance use during pregnancy?
- Colorado Solutions Lie in Listening to Families
HB22-1240 Mandatory Reporters passed the House last week and is being heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee today at 2 p.m. Contact members of the committee before the hearing to ask for their support in transforming how Colorado approaches ensuring child and family safety and well-being.
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