Felons working in child care identified

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— After about a week, Routt County Sheriff John Warner was given information that identified four felons that are currently working in child care in Routt County.

Warner received the information Tuesday after he requested the information last week from the Colorado Department of Human Services.

"All four individuals work at four different child-care providers in Routt County," Warner said.

At this point, Warner is not identifying the four individuals.

"I can't verify that these names and convictions are correct," Warner said Wednesday afternoon. "We are not releasing the names yet because of potential liability."

Warner is expected to meet with lawyers from the Routt County District Attorney's office this morning.

"I am going to ask the district attorney to take the case and have their investigator look into the potential of violations of state statute," he said.

A state statute requires any person who knows or suspects of a child being subjected to "circumstances or conditions which would reasonably result in abuse or neglect" to immediately report it to the county.

If a convicted felon is working in child care, those conditions could result in abuse or neglect, he said.

The sheriff requested the information after a study by the Colorado Department of Human Resources identified 65 child-care providers had criminal records in Routt, Yuma and Adams counties.

The study conducted spot checks of 477 child-care providers in the three counties.

Oxana Golden, director of Child Care Services for the state Department of Human Services, released the information Dec. 12.

Golden released the information to the state's Legislative Audit Committee. The information infuriated Warner in that he was not notified of the study nor its results earlier.

Warner found out about it on television Dec. 6.

"They should have called us immediately that these people were working at these child-care facilities," Warner said of the Department of Human Services.

The results showed Colorado Bureau of Investigation background reports overlooked eight felons who were working as child-care providers in the three counties.

With the CBI background checks, 33 people accumulating 80 felony charges were hired by child-care agencies between September 1999 and June 2000. Twenty-five of those people had 63 "serious" offenses, according to the study.

All except one of the employees were either let go or the child-care agencies had gone out of business.

The exception was a man with an assault charge who lived in a house that provided child care, Golden said.

Once Warner found out about the study, he immediately requested the state department provide him with the names of the felons working in Routt County.

Warner was frustrated he could not get the information earlier.

"It took some time for them to respond," he said. "They sent panic into our community, but it almost took a week to get the information."

The delay was because the names of the felons were not readily available, Golden said.

"The study did not include individual names," she said. "We had to reconstruct the data and find out that information."

Since the results of the study were reported, Warner has received about four telephone calls from concerned parents.

"I don't blame parents for being concerned," he said.

If a parent is concerned about their child-care provider in Routt County, Warner urges for the parent to give him a call.

Warner will give the parent a recommendation based on the information that he knows, he said.

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