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Complaint Coordination Policy

This policy statement establishes an organized procedure for handling written complaints received by the Department, including complaints which are forwarded to the Department from the State Office of Consumer Relations, Complaint Coordinator and complaints which initiate at the County level.

A County Complaint Coordinator for Fremont County Department of Human Services will be designated.  The duties in this capacity will include: logging in all complaints regardless of the source or apparent merit of the complaint; gathering information necessary for problem identification and clarification; establishing expectations of the complaining party; responding to the State Complaint Coordinator; referring clients/individuals to the proper unit in the Department or to another agency when such referral would result in an immediate resolution of the problem; making other appropriate responses or referrals as may be necessary to mitigate a complaint; and taking action as a result of a complaint.  A back-up Complaint Coordinator for conflict-of-interest cases will be designated. Fremont County Department of Human Services is located at 172 Justice Center Rd, Canon City, CO  81212 and can be reached by phone at 719-275-2318.

Other than responses to the State Complaint Coordinator, no complaint response may be made which in any way violates or could lead to a violation of the rules and regulations pertaining to the confidentiality of records; or in any way jeopardize an individual’s privacy.

The State Agency has categorized complaints into the following categories.  The first four will also be used to categorize complaints that initiate at the county level.

Type I: Information and Referral:

The State Complaint Coordinator will handle these complaints informally, including referrals to the County Complaint Coordinator when appropriate.  For complaints of this type initiated at the County level the County Complaint Coordinator will resolve the complaint by providing necessary information and/or referring the individual to the appropriate organizational unit or agency.

Type II: Professional Conduct:

All complaints involving treatment of the public by staff will be responded to by the County Complaint Coordinator within 10 working days.  All responses will be in writing with copies to the Director and the individual employee’s immediate supervisor; and if the complaint initiated from the State Complaint Coordinator, they will be sent a copy of the response.  Three substantiated complaints regarding professional courtesy in a twelve-month period will be noted in the employee’s performance evaluation.

The following will pertain to the Child Welfare Section of Fremont County Department of Human/Social Services: 19-3-211 C.R.S., 12 CCR 2509-3 Rule 7.200.3-7.200.4 County Policy for Grievances Concerning County Employee Conduct Legal Authority.

I.  A Citizen Review Panel is hereby created in this county. Pursuant to Section 19-3-211, C.R.S.:

A.      The members of the Citizen Review Panel shall be appointed by the Board of Social Services without influence from the state department or the county department. 

B.       The members shall represent the community, have demonstrable personal or professional knowledge and experience with children, and not be employees or agents of the state department or any county department.

C.       At least one member of the Citizen Review Panel in each county and city and county shall be the parent of a minor child at the time of his or her appointment to serve on such panel.

The county department will maintain a list of the Citizen Review Panel members.  The list of members will be provided to the state with the annual submission. 

II. The grievance process concerning employee conduct shall provide for the resolution of grievances as follows:

A. 1.   All grievances shall be submitted to the county director for internal resolution within ten working days after receipt of the grievance.

2.   The county director shall issue a written final decision resolving the grievance within twenty days.  If the decision resolves the grievance to the complainant’s satisfaction, the grievance will be closed.

3.   If the complainant’s grievance is not resolved by the county director, upon the request of the complainant, the grievance will be referred to the Citizen Review Panel.

4.     The Citizen Review Panel will review the grievance and the county department's proposed resolution of the grievance within thirty days receipt of the referral. 

a. At the request of the complainant, the county department, or the subject of the grievance, the Citizen Review Panel, as part of its review, may take informal testimony submitted voluntarily and without fee by experts or other individuals, including county department personnel. 

b.  A Citizen Review Panel may request and receive information from any other county or city and county that may be pertinent to the grievance.

5.   The Citizen Review Panel shall provide the complainant and the county director written notification of its recommendation concerning the grievance and the basis for its recommendation.

6.   If the county department and complainant agree with the recommendation of the Citizen Review Panel, the county director shall issue a written final decision and the grievance shall be closed.

7.   If the county department and complainant disagree with the recommendation of the Citizen Review Panel, the grievance shall be referred to the governing body for review.

8.   The governing body shall submit a written decision containing its recommendation and the basis for its recommendation to the county director and any county department employee who is the subject of a grievance within thirty days of receiving the grievance.  The county director shall issue a written final decision that shall include the county director's plan for implementation of the final decision.

B.   Any recommendations of the Citizen Review Panel and of the governing body shall be limited to actions within the authority of the county director including, but not limited to, recommendations for case reassignment, personnel training, and disciplinary action concerning a county department employee.  If disciplinary action is initiated against a county department employee as a result of recommendations, the employee shall be entitled to the rights, including procedural rights to appeal, that the employee has through the Fremont County personnel system under which the employee is employed.

C.  A Citizen Review Panel and any governing body shall have access to child abuse or neglect reports and any information from the complete case file that the governing body believes is pertinent to the grievance, which shall be reviewed solely for the purpose of resolving grievances pursuant to the provisions of this section except that access to identifying information concerning any person who reported child abuse or neglect shall not be provided and no participant in the conflict resolution process shall divulge or make public any confidential information contained in a report of child abuse or neglect or in other case file records to which he or she has been provided access.

D.  The county department shall prepare a final report to the Citizen Review Panel within thirty days after the issuance of any final decision in the conflict resolution process that shall include the disposition of each grievance referred to the Citizen Review Panel in a manner not inconsistent with applicable state and county personnel rules.

E.  The complainant and county department employee who is the subject of the grievance shall receive copies of the following:

     1. The written decision of the governing body;

     2. The final written decision of the county director;

     3. The final report of the county department.

III.    A. The county department shall prepare and submit an annual report along with a copy of this county’s Grievance and Complaint policy to the State Department.  The annual report and the policy also shall be made available to the county’s Citizen Review Panel, other Citizen Review Panels and the public.  The annual report and policy may be shared with other entities as authorized by law.

B.  The annual report will identify the members of the Citizen Review Panel, the number of complaints and grievances filed and the disposition of each complaint or grievance.  Submissions will be reviewed by the Department. 

IV.     Nothing in this section shall be construed to direct or authorize any participant in the conflict resolution process to use the process to interfere with any civil or criminal investigation or judicial proceeding, to seek relief from any court action, or to seek a remedy that is within the authority of a court having jurisdiction over a pending proceeding.  A county department shall not be precluded from presenting any relevant evidence in a pending civil or criminal investigation or proceeding that the county department has obtained in the course of fulfilling its duties in the conflict resolution process pursuant to the provisions of this section.

Type III: Case Compliance and Practice:

These types of complaints will normally initiate at the State level and be forwarded to the County Complaint Coordinator, who must respond within 20 working days.  If such a complaint initiates at the local level, the County Complaint Coordinator will still respond within 20 working days.  Complaints of this type involving eligibility determinations or benefit levels may be resolved informally by local evidentiary hearing or by a State Appeals process.  In complaints of this type involving specific practice issues, the County Complaint Coordinator will assess the total matter including appropriate local policies and procedures and will complete a response including a recommendation for problem resolution within 20 working days. Unresolved practice issues may fall into Type V discussed in the following material.

Type IV:  Policy and Program:

These complaints will be resolved by the State Complaint Coordinator.  If they initiate at the local level they will be submitted to the State Complaint Coordinator.

Type V: Unresolved Practice Issues:

Unresolved practice issues originating from Type III complaints will be assessed by a Complaint Review Panel as per Agency Letter 86-259-A.

Type VI: County Specific Issues:

Complaints, verbal or written, originating at the local level involving client eligibility or situations which, if substantiated, could result in ineligibility will be forwarded from the County Complaint Coordinator to the Fraud Investigator.