Representative Bradfield, bill sponsor, introduced HB21-1272. The bill provides the Office of the Child Protection Ombudsman (Ombudsman) in the Judicial Department with additional access to information for investigations, and exempts the Ombudsman from subpoena or testifying in a civil or criminal proceeding in which they are not a legal party.
Investigative authority for the Ombudsman. Under current law, the Ombudsman investigates any report or complaint made by or on behalf of a child relating to any action, inaction, or decision of any public agency, or any provider that receives public money, that may affect the safety or well-being of a child. This bill gives the Ombudsman additional authority to access information, records or documents necessary to conduct an investigation into a complaint, without cost if electronic records are not available. Upon request, all entities in the state must provide the Ombudsman with access to information related to an investigation, including but not limited to:
- the Division of Youth Services in the Department of Human Service (DHS);
- the Child Fatality Prevention Review Team in the Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE);
- the Office of the State Registrar of Vital Statistics in the CDPHE;
- coroner’s offices;
- law enforcement agencies;
- courts; and
- state licensed out-of-home placement providers.
The bill also requires the Child Fatality Review Team in the DHS and child fatality local review teams under the CDPHE to provide their final reports and findings to the Ombudsman.
Legal protections for the Ombudsman. The bill exempts the Ombudsman and any employee or person acting on their behalf from providing oral and written testimony in a civil or criminal proceeding in which the Ombudsman is not a legal party. The bill also protects information, records and documents that have been requested and reviewed by the Ombudsman from subpoena, discovery or introduction into evidence in a civil or criminal proceeding in which the Ombudsman is not a legal party.