For over four years, an email address set up for Colorado residents to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect was left unmonitored. Colorado’s Department of Human Services has admitted that there have been five reports of neglected or abused children that were missed thanks to the neglected email account. Despite the fact that neglect cases are usually responded to immediately, an error with the email account prevented that from happening.
"It’s of great concern that we had five that did not reach the level of attention they needed in a timely way," said Minna Castillo-Cohen, the Director of the Office of Children and Families at CDHS. Many are wondering how something like this could happen. According to CBS Denver, when the email address for the abuse hotline was initially set up in 2015, the formatting of the email address was wrong so a new address was created. Unfortunately, the initial address was never made inactive nor was it ever monitored, and throughout the past almost five years, 321 unanswered emails were sent to the initial email address. The unmonitored email address was discovered after CDHS conducted an internal audit in May of this year.
Although many of those 321 emails were spam or junk mail, Castillo-Cohen told the news agency that an alarming 104 of the emails were related to "expressed concerns of child abuse or neglect." She confirmed that when those emails were evaluated there were five reports of neglect that would have required immediate attention that was unfortunately not received.
“And we wish we would have been able to identify these earlier but we did not know this email even existed,” said Castillo-Cohen.
Linda Newell, a former state senator who introduced the legislation that created the hotline commented on the error. "Seeing the glitch was very startling, I hope no one is dead or injured because of it," she said. "These numbers may be small, but in anybody’s opinion, one child is too much."
Castillo-Cohen did remind the public that should they be concerned about the safety and welfare of a child they can call the telephone hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-844-CO-4-KIDS or 1-844-264-5437.