Developmental Screening and Children Involved in Colorado's Child Welfare System - CAPTA and Beyond

Research has shown that toxic stress, including abuse and/or neglect that occurs when a child is young, can have negative impacts on brain/cognitive development, attachment, and academic achievement. While a young child's development may be more susceptible to toxic stress, early intervention during this critical period can be most effective in mitigating the detrimental effects of that stress. It is known that the provision of early services and intervention to support the healthy development of young children can have positive effects that last throughout childhood and into adulthood (Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2010).

Please watch the short video tutorial below for more information.

 

Terms and Definitions

Administrative Units (AUs)

Administrative Units refers to the special education administrative unit which is a school district, Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), Board of Cooperatives Services (BOCS), or the State Charter School Institute, that is providing educational services to exceptional children and is responsible for the local administration and implementation of the Exceptional Children's Education Act.

Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) 

CAPTA is the federal legislation that guides states in implementing a child protection system. CAPTA was first established in 1974 and was most recently reauthorized in 2010. One provision of CAPTA is the requirement to refer children under age three with founded child abuse and/or neglect to the early intervention system for a developmental screening.

Child Find

Child Find is used in two different ways:

  1. In Colorado, the term "Child Find" is typically used as the name of the team responsible for conducting evaluations through local Administrative Units (AUs).
  2. "Child find" activities are a requirement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to locate, identify, and evaluate children who may be eligible for early intervention or special education services. Both Early Intervention programs (EI) and Special Education Administrative Units (AUs) across Colorado are responsible for working in partnership to make the public and primary referral sources aware of the availability of EI or special education services, as well as how to make a referral.
    • When a child, birth through age two, is referred for an EI evaluation, an evaluation is conducted by the local AU to determine the child's present levels of development and whether the child demonstrates a significant delay.
    • When a child, ages three through four years old, is referred to special education, the AU Child Find may conduct a screening and/or evaluation to determine whether the child meets the criteria to receive special education services.
Child Welfare Caseworker

Child welfare caseworker is the worker(s) assigned to work with the family while they are involved with the child welfare system. In some county departments of human/social services, the family may have one worker during the assessment phase and a different worker if either a non-court-involved or dependency & neglect case is opened. In other county departments of human/social services, the family may have one worker throughout their involvement with child welfare. For more information: See Term and Definition: Involved with Child Welfare

Colorado Department of Education (CDE)

Colorado Department of Education (CDE) provides leadership, resources, support and accountability to the state's 178 school districts, schools, teachers and administrators to help them build capacity to meet the needs of the state's public school students. CDE is the administrative arm of the State Board of Education and is responsible for implementing state and federal education laws, disbursing state and federal education funds, holding schools and districts accountable for performance, licensing all educators, and providing public transparency of performance and financial data.

Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS)

Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) The Colorado Department of Human Services' mission is to design and deliver high quality human and health services that improve the safety, independence, and well-being of the people of Colorado. Both the Office of Early Childhood and the Office of Children, Youth & Families are a part of CDHS.

Community Centered Boards (CCBs)

Community Centered Boards (CCBs) are non-profit agencies in the local community that serve individuals with disabilities and developmental delays from birth throughout the life span. There are 20 CCBs across the State that contract with CDHS to provide early intervention services.

Developmental Screening

Developmental screening is a way to determine if a child's physical, social-emotional, cognitive, and adaptive development is typical for his/her age and if there is a need for further evaluation. In Colorado, the Ages and Stages Questionnaire is a commonly used standardized developmental screening tool.

Early Intervention (EI) Colorado

Early Intervention (EI) Colorado is a state and federally funded program (IDEA Part C) available statewide to support families with an infant or toddler, birth through age two, determined to have a developmental delay or disability. The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) is the lead agency for IDEA Part C in Colorado. Through the provision of early intervention services in the home, such as occupational, speech, or physical therapy, families are given strategies to support and promote their child's development, within family activities and community life, to help their infants and toddlers develop and learn. It is a voluntary program that is provided at no cost to the family and does not discriminate based on race, legal status, culture, religion, income level, or disability. Early intervention services are provided through contracts between the Community Centered Boards (CCBs) and CDHS, Office of Early Childhood, Early Intervention Colorado. There are three ways that children are determined to be eligible for services:

  1. Being diagnosed with an established condition
  2. Through an evaluation process to determine if a significant delay is present
  3. The child lives with a parent who has a developmental delay identified by the CCB. Early intervention services are provided through contracts between the CCBs and CDHS, Office of Early Childhood, Early Intervention Colorado.
Early Intervention System

Early intervention system refers to the coordinated efforts to conduct child identification, referral, screening and/or evaluation activities for children birth through age two. These coordinated efforts involve Early Intervention (see above) and AU Child Find.

Educational Surrogate

Educational surrogate, as it relates to IDEA Part B, "shall mean a person who meets the qualifications established in Section 6.02(8)(e)(iii) of these Rules and is assigned to represent the child in all educational decision-making processes pertaining to the identification, evaluation, educational placement of the child and the provision of a free, appropriate public education to the child whenever the parent of a child with a disability is unknown, cannot be located, is unavailable or the child is a ward of the State. The assignment of an educational surrogate parent shall be in accordance with Section 6.02(8) of these Rules." (Exceptional Children's Education Act 2.13)

Evaluation

Evaluation is a term that refers to the procedures used to determine whether the child has a significant delay or disability. See questions below for more information:

Family Services Plan (FSP)

Family Services Plan (FSP) is developed between the child welfare caseworker and the family to determine the services and outcomes that will be provided to ensure that the child is safe and risk of harm is mitigated. For more information, see Volume 7.301.23.

Founded 

Founded means "that the abuse and/or neglect assessment established by a preponderance of the evidence that an incident(s) of abuse and/or neglect occurred" (Child Welfare Rules Volume 7.000.2 Definitions). Please complete the following mandated reporter training to find out more about what constitutes abuse and/or neglect: https://www.coloradocwts.com/community-training. For more information see question "What does it mean for a family to be involved with child welfare?"

Inconclusive

Inconclusive means "that the abuse and/or neglect assessment established that there was some likelihood that an incident(s) of abuse and/or neglect occurred but assessment could not obtain the evidence necessary to make a founded finding" (Child Welfare Rules Volume 7.000.2 Definitions).

Individualized Education Program (IEP)

Individualized Education Program (IEP) means a written plan for a child with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised in accordance with the Exceptional Children's Education Act (ECEA) and IDEA, Part B.

Individualized Family Services Plan (IFSP)

Individualized Family Services Plan (IFSP) means a written plan for providing early intervention services to eligible children and their families, in accordance with 34 C.F.R. Section 303.340. The IFSP documents how the family and other members of the Early Intervention team will work together to address the needs the family has identified based on information from the child's evaluation and/or assessment, and from the concerns, resources, and priorities they have identified. It will also list the services the family needs to help their child develop and learn.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Parts B and C

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Parts B and C, is a federal law ensuring the provision of services to children with disabilities throughout the nation. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education, and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities. Children and youth, ages 3-21, with educational disabilities receive special education and related services under IDEA Part B. Infants and toddlers with disabilities, birth through age two, and their families receive early intervention services under IDEA Part C.

Involved with Child Welfare

Involved with child welfare: Families may be involved with child welfare in multiple ways:

  1. Screened-Out Report:
    • After a county department of human/social services receives a report of suspected child abuse and/or neglect, the county uses State Statute and child welfare rule to determine whether the report needs to be assessed.
    • If a report does not meet statutory requirements to be assessed, the referral is "screened out" and the child welfare caseworker will not respond. In some counties, the family may be referred to a community agency to receive prevention services, such as home visitation programs.
  2. High Risk Assessment (HRA):
    • If a report does meet statutory requirements to be assessed, an assessment is conducted to identify if there are any safety concerns for the child, if intervention is necessary, and the resources, strengths, and risk present in the family.
    • At the end of an assessment, a determination of child abuse and/or neglect is made as "founded", "inconclusive" or "unfounded".
    • If there is a finding of child abuse and/or neglect for a child under the age of 5, then the county child welfare caseworker is required to make a referral for a developmental screening. See question: When child abuse and/or neglect is founded on a child under the age of five, what is the child welfare caseworker's responsibility regarding developmental screening?
    • At the end of an Assessment, the involvement of child welfare with the family may end, a non-court-involved or voluntary case may be opened (see below), or the county may file a Dependency &, Neglect case (D&,N, see below) with the court.
  3. Family Assessment Response (FAR):
    • Some counties have a "differential response" where they have the option of completing a HRA (see above) OR completing a FAR.
    • The only differences in the FAR from an HRA is that the assessment does not determine a finding of whether or not child abuse and/or neglect occurred and that the child is not required to be interviewed outside of the presence of the person alleged to be responsible for the abuse.
    • At the end of a FAR, the worker is not required to make a referral for a developmental screening unless the child presents with needs that may benefit from developmental screening. See question: When child abuse and/or neglect is NOT founded on a child under the age of five, what is the child welfare caseworker's responsibility regarding developmental screening?
    • At the end of a FAR, the family is no longer involved with child welfare unless ongoing services are identified (see non-court-involved case below).
    • A FAR may be changed to an HRA if safety concerns are identified during the course of an assessment.
  4. Non-Court-Involved Case:
    1. If, after a an HRA, the county and the family agree that additional services or support would be helpful to the family, a non-court-involved or "voluntary" case may be opened.
    2. If, after a FAR, the county and the family agree that additional services or support would be helpful to the family, a FAR services case may be opened.

      These cases are NOT court-involved, but still have a Family Service Plan (FSP).
      In these cases, the child may remain at home or the family may have determined that it is best for the child to live with another family member or family friend.
      Upon completion of the FSP, the voluntary case is closed. However, if the FSP is not completed and there are safety concerns for the child, then a D&,N may be filed by the county. (HRA only)Dependency & Neglect Case:
  5. If the HRA determines that there are safety concerns for the child and/or the family is at high risk for future child abuse and/or neglect, the county may file a D&N.
    • These cases are court-involved and a FSP is created.
    • In these cases, a child may be living at home or may have been removed from the home by the court and is placed with kin (family, friends) or in a foster home.

Flowchart: What does it mean to be involved with child welfare?

Office of Children, Youth & Families (OCYF)

The Office of Children, Youth and Families (OCYF) shares the CDHS vision for the people of Colorado to be safe, healthy and prepared to achieve their greatest aspirations. Collaborating with our partners, the OCYF mission is to design and deliver high quality human and health services that improve the safety, independence, and well-being of Colorado's children, youth and families. The Division of Child Welfare (DCW) is housed within OCYF and more information can be found on the Organizational structure and leadership page.

Office of Early Childhood (OEC)

Office of Early Childhood (OEC) is in CDHS and includes: Child Care Licensing, Child Maltreatment Prevention, Child Care Quality Initiatives, Colorado Child Care Assistance Program, Early Childhood Councils, Early Childhood Mental Health Services, Early Intervention Colorado Program (Part C/Early Intervention), Head Start Collaboration, Home Visitation Programs, Promoting Safe and Stable Families program, Race to the Top, and Safe Care. The OEC was created to ensure greater cross-collaboration across early childhood programs and services.

Parent

Parent, in this educational tool, generally refers to both biological and adoptive parents. Please see the following graphic below below for more information.

Parent Surrogate

Parent Surrogate, as it relates to IDEA Part C, is defined in the Early Intervention Colorado State Plan as a person who "meets state required procedures and requirements and who has been appointed in accordance with 34 C.F.R. Section 303.422, which is incorporated by reference in Section 7.900, A, 5, shall be designated to ensure that the rights of a child are protected, if:

  1. No parent, as defined 34 C.F.R. Section 303.27, which is incorporated by reference as defined in Section 7.900, A, 5, and in Section 7.901, can be identified, or,
  2. A Community Centered Board, in partnership with other involved public agencies, after reasonable efforts cannot locate a parent, or,
  3. A child is placed in the legal custody of the county department of human/social services."
Release of Information

Release of information is a document signed by an individual and/or family that provides consent to share information across agencies.

Service Coordinators

Service Coordinators work with the family throughout their time in the early intervention program to assist them in accessing services and to inform them of their legal rights. They help families identify their strengths and needs, find resources, think about decisions the family needs to make, and coordinate all the services on the IFSP.

Special Education

Special education is specially designed instruction, including adapting the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction, to meet the specific needs of a child that result from his/her disability. Special education is provided at no cost to parents to meet the unique needs of the child with a disability. Special education ensures that the child has access to the general curriculum and supports the child in meeting educational standards.

Termination of Parental Rights

Termination of Parental Rights per Colorado Revised Statutes means "the permanent elimination by court order of all parental rights and duties" (C.R.S. 19-1-103(117)). The court makes the decision to terminate parental rights in a timely manner based on the parents' demonstrated actions and the best interests of the child. For more information, click here.

Trails

Trails is the state automated child welfare information system computer database.

Unfounded

Unfounded means "that the abuse and/or neglect assessment established that there is clear evidence that no incident of abuse and/or neglect occurred" (Child Welfare Rules volume 7.000.2 Definitions).

 

Resources

Resources

If you have questions or wish to request training or technical assistance related to developmental screening, please contact one of the following people:

  • Special education or child find:

Christopher Miller
State Child Find Specialist
Miller_Christopher@cde.state.co.us
P 303-866-6667

  • Early Intervention Colorado:
    Lenita Hartman
    Program Initiatives Manager, Early Intervention Colorado
    lenita.hartman@state.co.us
    P 303-866-5419
  • County departments of human/social services:
    Matt Holtman
    CAPTA Administrator, Division of Child Welfare
    303.866.4897
    matt.holtman@state.co.us
  • Primary care providers:

Eileen Bennett
Executive Director, Assuring Better Child Health & Development
eileen@coloradoabcd.org
P 720-748-7702

  • Infant Mental Health providers:
    Jodi Litfin
    Rocky Mountain Human Services and Colorado Association for Infant Mental Health
    jlitfin@rmhumanservices.org
    P303-636-5979

Background on Developmental Screening and Children Involved in Colorado's Child Welfare System

Background on Developmental Screening and Children Involved in Colorado's Child Welfare System

In Colorado there are two distinct requirements related to developmental screening and children involved with the child welfare system:

  • Federal requirement: The Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-36) amended CAPTA to include the requirement that states implement "provisions and procedures for referral of a child under age 3 who is involved in a substantiated case of child abuse and/or neglect to early intervention services funded under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act" (§106(b)(2) 3 (A)(xxi)).
  • State statute: Colorado statute (C.R.S. 26-5-108) requires children under the age of five with a founded case of abuse or neglect be referred by child welfare to an entity that conducts developmental screening.

County departments of human/social services, with supervision by Colorado Department of Human Services, are responsible for referring children ages birth through age four for developmental screening when abuse or neglect is founded.

For children age birth through two, the local Community Centered Board is responsible for responding to CAPTA referrals from child welfare for developmental screening and the local Special Education Administrative Unit is responsible for conducting screening and/or evaluation to determine if a child is eligible for early intervention services through the Part C system. Statutory compliance of the Part C system in Colorado is assured through the CDHS Office of Early Childhood.

For children ages three through four, there is no one agency or system responsible for responding to referrals from child welfare for developmental screening.

Development of this Educational Tool

This Developmental Screening Educational Tool was developed by the CAPTA Work Group. This group is an inter-disciplinary team of subject matter experts that was developed as a partnership between the CDHS Office of Early Childhood and Office of Children, Youth &, Families. Experts throughout Colorado were recruited to assist with developing frequently asked questions, as well as soliciting feedback from groups and individuals who work within the education, early intervention, health, and child welfare systems.

CAPTA Work Group Members created by:

  • Gabrielle Arreola, Weld County Department of Human Services
  • Eileen Auer Bennett, Assuring Better Child Health & Development
  • Lenita Hartman, CDHS, OEC, Division of Community & Family Support, Early Intervention Colorado
  • Courtney Holt-Rogers, Prowers County Department of Human Services
  • Jodi Litfin, Rocky Mountain Human Services and Colorado Association for Infant Mental Health
  • Heidi McCaslin, Colorado Department of Education, Exceptional Student Services
  • Mary Morin, San Luis Valley Board of Cooperative Educational Services
  • Lorendia Schmidt, CDHS, OCYF, Division of Child Welfare
  • M. Kay Teel, Strong Start for Families, Former Faculty, JFK Partners, University of Colorado School of Medicine
Contacts

If you have questions or wish to request training or technical assistance related to developmental screening, please contact one of the following people:

County departments of human/social services
Matt Holtman
CAPTA Administrator, Division of Child Welfare
303.866.4897
matt.holtman@state.co.us

Early Intervention Colorado
Lenita Hartman
Program Initiatives Manager, Early Intervention Colorado
303.866.5419
lenita.hartman@state.co.us

Infant mental health providers
Jodi Litfin
Rocky Mountain Human Services and Colorado Association for Infant Mental Health
303.636.5979
jlitfin@rmhumanservices.org

Primary care providers
Eileen Bennett
Executive Director, Assuring Better Child Health &, Development
720.748.7702
eileen@coloradoabcd.org

Special education or child find
Christoper Miller
Consultant, State Child Find Coordinator, Exceptional Student Services
303.866.6667
miller_christopher@cde.state.co.us