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Guardianships can protect minor children

Circumstances can arise where Colorado parents can no longer rear their own children. Sometimes devastating or terminal illness prevents them from parenting; other times addiction to alcohol and drugs result in the removal of children from their parents' custody. When state agencies like the Department of Human Services become involved, the parents often have little or no input in where the children will go.

A Denver TV station recently featured a case where four children who were removed from their mother's care due to her use of crack and meth wound up in not one, but two, inappropriate homes. The first placement was with the father of one of the four, a registered sex offender with gang ties and convictions for sexual assault and giving alcohol to minors. The children's mother had left three of her four kids with him, and while he was straightforward with the caseworker about his history, the placement was approved.

The convicted felon allegedly even produced a discovery report from his conviction and discussed it with the caseworker. At a later point, the fourth child was also placed in his home. All was well until it was discovered that the mother had been visiting the children there.

They were all removed and placed with their grandmother -- a convicted child abuser who also informed the DHS of her prison record. Eventually all four children were placed in other foster homes.

The Manager of the Department of Human Services in Denver issued this statement, "Providing a safe living environment for the children of this city is Denver Human Services' utmost priority … and we will take any and all steps possible to ensure that …"

Clearly mistakes were made all up and down the chain of command at the DHS, but scenarios like that can have a chilling effect on the perceived ability of the system to safeguard children. If you find yourself in a situation where you can no longer parent your children, it is far better to arrange for a legal professional to prepare a guardianship outlining who is to care for your minor children when you are no longer able.

Source: KMGH-TV, "Denver Human Services workers suspended after children placed with sex offender and child abuser" John Ferrugia, Sandra Barry, Jul. 18, 2014

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