Child welfare


Three photos of children and parents

Colorado's child welfare system is state supervised and administered by Colorado's 64 counties. CDHS's Division of Child Welfare oversees child welfare practice, provides policy direction and provides 80 percent of the funding for services. Counties contribute approximately 20 percent of the funding through local revenues.


The Division of Child Welfare is composed of a specialized set of services that strengthen the ability of the family to protect and care for their own children, minimize harm to children and youth, and ensure timely permanency planning. Services stabilize the family situation and strengthen the family's capacity to care for their children. When safety is not possible within the family, services focus on the child's need for a stable, permanent home as quickly as possible.

Child welfare services include:

  • prevention and intervention services for children, youth and families at risk of involvement with child welfare.
  • youth in conflict services reduce or eliminate conflicts between youth and their family members or the community when conflicts affect the youth's well-being, the normal functioning of the family, or the well-being of the community.
  • child protection services are provided to protect children whose physical, mental or emotional well-being is threatened by the actions or omissions of parents, legal guardians, custodians, or persons responsible for providing out-of-home care.
  • children or youth who have been adopted through foster care, children and youth with Medicaid-only services, and youth whose permanency goal is no longer reunification.

The Division of Child Welfare also directly licenses and monitors contracts for 24-hour out-of-home service providers.


Child trafficking in Colorado

Child trafficking is child abuse. The two forms of child trafficking are sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Learn more about child trafficking in Colorado.

Child Welfare Complaints

If you have a child welfare complaint, we will do our best to assist you. Read more about the complaint process and submit a complaint on the Contact the Colorado Department of Human Services page.

If you are concerned about a child or youth's safety and well-being, please call the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 844-CO-4-Kids. Call 9-1-1 if there is an immediate threat.

Child Welfare Training
CDHS Child Welfare Training System

The CDHS Child Welfare Training System provides strength-based, family-centered, competency-based training programs for child welfare professionals and para-professionals by delivering specialized courses for caseworkers, supervisors, case services aides, foster parents, and other child and family serving personnel. 

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).

Developmental screening can be an effective way to identify developmental concerns early in a child’s life and connect the child and family to services. Learn more on the Developmental screening educational tool for children in Colorado's child welfare system page.

Educational Stability of Youth in Foster Care

Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 requires county departments of human or social services (child welfare agencies) to promote and work towards school stability for children and youth in foster care, in collaboration with schools and school districts. The law stresses the importance of remaining in the same school unless it is not in the best interests of the child or youth.  This video was funded by the Administration for Children and Families as part of Colorado’s Education in Foster Care Demonstration Grant.  This video highlights how child welfare agencies and schools/school districts can engage in a collaborative process to make the best interest determination, who should be involved in the decision-making, and factors to consider.

Training for Foster, Kin and Adoptive Families

The Child Welfare Training System offers training, classes and resources for kinship caregivers and foster and adoptive parents. Training is available to help these dedicated adults meet certification requirements, understand the child welfare system and to enhance their parenting skills. 

Child Abuse and Neglect Mandatory Reporter Training

The Colorado Online Mandatory Reporter training is for individuals who are required by law to make reports of child abuse and/or neglect.

The training is designed to be flexible, so the amount of time it takes you to complete it may vary. Please count on spending approximately two hours. Access the training on the CO4Kids website.

Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline Reporting System

In 2012, a new child welfare plan — "Keeping Kids Safe and Families Healthy" — detailed a common practice approach for Colorado's 64 counties and two Tribal nations designed to strengthen the State's child welfare system. The second phase of that plan included the development of a statewide hotline providing one number to report suspected child abuse or neglect, and a corresponding public awareness and prevention campaign. Visit the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline Reporting System page to learn more.

Core Services Program

The Core Services Program was established within CDHS in 1994 and is statutorily required to provide strength-based resources and support to families when children/youth are at imminent risk of out-of-home placement, in need of services to return home, or to maintain a placement in the least restrictive setting possible. Responding to the complexity and variability in the needs of children, youth, and families across the diverse regions of Colorado, the Core Services Program combines the consistency of centralized state administrative oversight with the flexibility and accountability of a county-run system. This approach allows for individualized services to meet the needs of children, youth, and families across diverse Colorado communities. Visit the Child Welfare Core Services Program page to learn more.

Differential Response

Differential response (DR) is the overarching paradigm shift in counties to assess children for safety through partnering with families, community partners, and facilitate sustainable behavioral change within a family. Visit the Differential Response Program page to learn more.

Facilitated Family Engagement

Facilitated family engagement meetings provide families that have an open child welfare case with case planning meetings aimed at resolving identified safety concerns as effectively and efficiently as possible. Meetings are designed to value live decision making and the importance of the family's voice as the best way to promote safety and permanency. Visit the Facilitated family engagement page to learn more.

Permanency Roundtable Program

The goal of the Permanency Roundtable is to expedite legal permanency for the child, stimulate thinking and learning about new ways to accelerate permanency and identify and address systemic barriers to timely permanency.

A Permanency Roundtable is a professional consultation on a youth's case who has been in out of home placement for over a year or who has been assigned a permanency goal of Other Planned Permanency Living Arrangement. Visit the Permanency Roundtable Program page to learn more.

Placement Services

The Division of Child Welfare provides regulatory oversight, processes licensing applications, enforces rules, and provides technical assistance to ensure the safety and well-being of children in out of home placement in 24-hour licensed child care facilities.

Prevention and Intervention Services

More commonly known to human services professionals as Program Area 3, child welfare services include prevention and intervention services for children, youth, and families at risk of involvement with child welfare. Services are provided to families to safely care for their children prior to involvement or referral to child welfare. This program area was added in 2013.

Relative Guardianship Assistance Program

The purpose of the Relative Guardianship Assistance Program is to reduce barriers for eligible children and youth in foster care so they can achieve legal permanency when reunification and adoption are not appropriate goals. Visit the Relative Guardianship Assistance Program page to learn more.

Tony Grampsas Youth Services Program

The Tony Grampsas Youth Services (TGYS) Program is a statutory program providing funding to local organizations for prevention, intervention, and education programs for children, youth, and their families designed to prevent youth crime and violence, youth marijuana use, and child abuse and neglect. Visit the Tony Grampsas Youth Services Program page to learn more.

Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program

The Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) program provides culturally- and linguistically-appropriate child welfare, foster care, and independent living services to minors who enter the United States (U.S.) unaccompanied by a parent or guardian. Visit the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program page to learn more.

Glossary of Acronyms

The Division of Child Welfare often relies on acronyms that require explanation for the material to be useful. This glossary of acronyms is organized in alphabetical order.

ABCD Assuring Better Child Health and Development
ACC Accountable Care Collaborative
ACF Administration for Children and Families
ACHY Advisory Committee on Homeless Youth
AECF Annie E. Casey Foundation
AI/AN American Indian/Alaska Native
APSR Annual Progress and Services Report
ARC American Red Cross
ARD Administrative Review Division
BHO Behavioral Health Organization
BPCT Best Practice Court Teams
C.R.S. Colorado Revised Statutes
CAPTA Child Abuse Prevention Treatment Act
CASA Court Appointed Special Advocate
CBSM Community-Based Social Marketing
CCIA Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs
CCR Code of Colorado Regulations
CCR Colorado Community Response
CCYIS Colorado Children and Youth Information Sharing
CDHS Colorado Department of Human Services
CFCIP Chafee Foster Care Independence Program
CFP Casey Family Programs
CFR Code of Federal Regulations
CFSP Child and Family Services Plan
CFSR Child and Family Services Review
CHSDA Colorado Human Services Directors Association
CHRP Children’s Habilitation Residential Program
CIP Court Improvement Program
CMHC Community Mental Health Center
CMO Central Management Organization
CMP Collaborative Management Program
COEM Colorado Office of Emergency Management
COG Continuity of Government
COVOAD Colorado Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters
CPA Certified Public Accountant
CPA Child Placement Agency
CPM Colorado Practice Model
CPR Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
CPS Child Protective Services
CQI Continuous Quality Improvement
CSFPA Colorado State Foster Parent Association
CSU Colorado State University
CTUG Colorado Trails Users Group
CWELC Child Welfare Executive Leadership Council
CWTA Child Welfare Training Academy
CWTS Child Welfare Training System
CY Calendar Year
CYLN Colorado Youth Leadership Network
D&,N Dependency and Neglect
DCW Division of Child Welfare
DHS Department of Human Services
DIFRC Denver Indian Family Resource Center
DOH Division of Housing
DPHE Department of Public Health and Environment
DR Differential Response
DSS Department of Social Services
DVP Domestic Violence Program
DYC Division of Youth Corrections
EOC Emergency Operations Center
EOP Emergency Operations Plan
EPSDT Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Testing
ETV Education and Training Vouchers
FAMJIS Family Justice Information System
FAR Family Assessment Response
FEMA Federal Emergency Management Agency
FFY Federal Fiscal Year
FSP Family Service Plan
FTE Full-Time Equivalent
FUP Family Unification Program
GAL Guardian ad Litem
GED General Education Development
HB House Bill
HCBS Home and Community-Based Services
HCPF Health Care Policy and Financing
HCV Housing Choice Voucher
HSC Hotline Steering Committee
HSRI Human Services Research Institute
ICPC Interstate Compact for Placement of Children
ICWA Indian Child Welfare Act
IDEA Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
IFGP Individual and Family Grant Program
IGA Inter-Governmental Agreement
IH In-Home
LGBT Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender
LGBTQ Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning
LINKS Listening to the Needs of Kids
LMS Learning Management System
MCV Monthly Caseworker Visit
MOU Memorandum of Understanding
NCANDS National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System
NCFAS North Carolina Family Assessment Scales
NFP Nurse–Family Partnership
NGA National Governors Association
NTTL No Time to Lose
NYTD National Youth in Transition Database
OBH Office of Behavioral Health
OCR Office of the Child’s Representative
OCYF Office of Children, Youth and Families
OEC Office of Early Childhood
OITS Office of Information Technology Services
OJT On-the-Job
OOH Out-of-Home
OPPLA Other Planned Permanent Living Arrangement
OYLC Older Youth Learning Collaborative
P.L. Public Law
PAC Policy Advisory Committee
PBL Project-Based Learning
PIO Public Information Officer
PIP Performance Improvement Plan
PMD Performance Management Division
PSSF Promoting Safe and Stable Families
Q&,A Question and Answer
QA Quality Assurance
QPT Quality Practice Team
R&,R Recruitment and Retention
RCCF Regional Child Care Facility
RCCO Regional Care Collaborative Organization
RED Review, Evaluate, Direct
ROM Results Oriented Management
RTAC Regional Training Advisory Committee
RTC Regional Training Center
SACWIS Statewide Automatic Child Welfare Information System
SAMHSA Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
SB Senate Bill
SCORM Sharable Content Object Reference Model
SEF State Emergency Function
SEOC State Emergency Operations Center
SEOP State Emergency Operations Plan
SFBT Solution-Focused Brief Therapy
SFY State Fiscal Year
SME Subject Matter Expert
SNAP Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
SSC State Steering Committee
START State and Regional Team for Crimes Against Children
SUDSS Southern Ute Department of Social Services
T&,TA Training and Technical Assistance
TA Technical Assistance
TAE The Adoption Exchange
TBD To Be Determined
TEV Travel Expense Voucher
TGYS Tony Grampsas Youth Services
TPR Termination of Parental Rights
TISOC Trauma-Informed System of Care
TSC Training Steering Committee
TTY Tele-Typewriter
U.S.C. United States Code
USDA United States Department of Agriculture
VOICES Value of Individual and Community Engagement Services
WBT Web-Based Training
WIA Workforce Investment Act