How child neglect and abuse reports get handled

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- Recognizing child abuse or child neglect can be difficult, and knowing whether to report it can be just as hard.

Mesa County Department of Human Services has specific steps it takes when a report is made about suspected child abuse.

"We make a referral, and it's reviewed the next business day by a team of different staff members that reviews it to determine if an assessment needs to be made," said Michelle Jones, Child Protection Community Liaison for Mesa County Department of Human Services.

Jones said whether or not an assessment is made is based on Colorado laws that define what is considered abuse or neglect. The team of professionals will also take into consideration the family's history, any previous reports and who is making the reports.

If an assessment is assigned, a case manager will first go to the victim's house to try to speak with the family. If the family can't be reached at home, the case manager will usually try to find the child at school, Jones said.

"We make diligent efforts to make repeated attempts to contact the family," Jones said. "After a number of attempts, if we're not able to reach them we'll send them a letter to contact us."

Through October 31, 2012, the department received 2,862 unduplicated child welfare referrals, and performed assessments on 1,446 of those calls. Over the past seven years in Mesa County, there have been 13 child abuse fatalities.

If you suspect abuse or neglect, you can anonymously report it to Mesa County's 24-hour child protection hotline at 970-242-1211.

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