Child welfare collaborations

Colorado's collaborations at the state and county levels are critical to providing services to children, youth and families involved in the child welfare system. The collaborations with the CDHS Office of Children, Youth and Families are not only critical in the delivery of services, but also are key to ensuring the sustainable success of the children and families they serve. The collaborations avoid splintering of efforts, create unified treatment approaches, increase community support for best practice efforts, and increase local contribution to creating solutions for improving the lives of children and families.

Visit the CDHS boards and commissions page to learn about child welfare-related committees and workgroups.

The following collaborations are highlighted due to their impact on the implementation of major initiatives.

Collaborative Management Program

Colorado's commitment to improving social service delivery systems gave rise to the Collaborative Management Program, which is administered by the Division of Community Programs. In 2004, the Colorado General Assembly passed House Bill 04-1451 to establish collaborative management programs at the county level that would improve outcomes for children, youth, and families involved with multiple agencies. The legislation calls for the development of local collaborative management structures and processes that bring together agencies and services for at-risk, high systems-use children, youth, and families. Partners in local Collaborative Management Programs include county departments of human/social services, local judicial districts, health departments, school districts, community mental health centers, and behavioral health organizations or regional accountable entities, parent or family advocacy groups, and community agencies.

Visit the Collaborative Management Program page for more details.

Colorado Practice Model

Colorado is committed to achieving positive outcomes for children and their families involved with the child welfare system. The Colorado Practice Model (CPM) is an effort to develop a clear, consistent and cohesive approach to practice and service delivery. This framework was designed and developed collaboratively with child welfare staff and stakeholders across the state. To support Colorado on this journey, the Mountains and Plains Child Welfare Implementation Center supported a three-year implementation project, which explores and defines a Colorado practice model and implements specific practice strategies that are directed towards improved outcomes for children and families.

Colorado is committed to achieving positive outcomes for children and their families involved with child-serving agencies across the state and to shaping and implementing practice and system reform. To support Colorado on this journey, the MPCWIC three year implementation project will explore and define a Colorado practice model and implement specific practice strategies that are directed towards improved outcomes.

Colorado Statewide Youth Development Plan

The Colorado Statewide Youth Development Plan presents a vision for a strong youth development network and strategies for improving an array of youth-focused policies, practices, and programs. At the core of the vision and strategies is the incorporation of positive youth development principles into the services and programs for youth ages 9 to 25 in Colorado. Learn more on the Colorado Statewide Youth Development Plan page.

Court Improvement Program

CDHS's collaboration with the Colorado Court Improvement Program (CIP) enhances interdisciplinary processes involving children, youth and families involved in multiple systems. CIP was created as a result of the 1993 Family Preservation and Support Act. The Act required an original assessment on how Colorado handles its cases involving children, in particular dependency and neglect cases.

The CIP is primarily concerned with improving the way the individual courts in Colorado handle dependency and neglect cases in order to improve the safety, permanency and well-being outcome for the children and families the court serves.

As a result of the CIP, several initiatives were created, they include:

  • The Family Justice Information System (FAMJIS), Colorado's child welfare data exchange project. FAMJIS measures performance on specific items related to safety, timeliness, due process, and permanency, and is available to judicial officers and their staff.
  • CIP and the Child Welfare Training system collaborated to develop and provide on-going training delivery of the CIP Training Wheel Curricula. This training assists multi-disciplinary Best Practice Court Teams in building a foundation of core knowledge within each discipline or service area related to the outcomes of safety, permanency, and well-being.
  • CQI systems were implemented within Judicial and align efforts to improve permanency outcomes for children and youth. This work resulted in a Permanency Site Visit protocol and the training of stakeholders on CQI for the purpose of increasing permanency.
  • Best Practice D&,N Court Teams (BPCT) are convened to discuss lessons learned and share perspectives on the CQI process and tools for Permanency Site Visits.
  • CIP promotes the expansion and sustained utilization of CQI for permanency goals. CIP obtained technical assistance from the Children's Bureau to work with eight Colorado jurisdictions. The partnership includes Colorado CIP, CDHS, National Resource Center for Legal and Judicial Issues, Region 8 Administration of Children and Families, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and the National Center for State Courts, facilitated by the federal Training and Technical Assistance (T&,TA) Network. They have built logic models and conducted CQI training for all jurisdictions and BPCT convenings, and have applied the CQI process at each site. This work is ongoing.
Crossover Youth Practice Model

The Crossover Youth Practice Model (CYPM) was created to address unique issues presented by children and youth who are known to both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. These young people, often referred to as "crossover youth," move between the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, or are known to both concurrently.

The CYPM describes the specific practices that need to be in place within a jurisdiction in order to reduce the number of youth who crossover between the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, the number of youth entering and reentering care, and the length of stay in out of home care. The CYPM will infuse into this work values and standards, evidence-based practices, policies and procedures, and quality assurance processes. It will provide a template for how states can immediately impact how they serve crossover youth and rapidly impact outcomes.

The practice model provides a mechanism whereby agencies will strengthen their organizational structure and implement or improve practices that directly affect the outcomes for crossover youth. This will include but is not limited to the following practices: the creation of a process for identifying crossover youth at the point of crossing over, ensuring that workers are exchanging information in a timely manner, including families in all decision-making aspects of the case, ensuring that foster care bias is not occurring at the point of detention or disposition, and maximizing the services utilized by each system to prevent crossover from occurring.

Learn more at the Colorado Judicial Branch site.

Dependency and Neglect System Reform Program

DANSR is supported by the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's Statewide System Reform Program (SSRP). Several CDHS offices and the Colorado Judicial Department were jointly awarded the funding for this project in October 2014. Colorado's goal is to infuse or integrate effective family drug court practices into dependency and neglect cases across the state.


Jenna Quigley, LMFT
Dependency and Neglect System Reform (DANSR) Liaison
Statewide System Reform Program
1300 Broadway, Suite 1200, Denver 80203
P 720.625.5969

Keeping Kids Safe and Families Healthy

In 2012, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced a new child welfare plan — called Keeping Kids Safe and Families Healthy — that detailed a common practice approach for Colorado's 64 counties and two tribal nations designed to strengthen the state's child welfare system. In 2013, the second phase of the plan built upon five core strategies by revamping the front end of Colorado's child protection system through enhanced screening of calls reporting possible child abuse or neglect, new prevention strategies to assist families before they become part of the system, and training for mandatory reporters so at-risk children come to the attention of the child protection system sooner.

Keeping Kids Safe and Families Healthy identified five core strategies:

  1. Common practice approach
  2. Performance management
  3. Workforce development
  4. Funding alignment
  5. Transparency and public engagement

Visit the Keeping Kids Safe and Families Healthy page to learn more.

Trauma-Informed System of Care

The vision of the Trauma-Informed System of Care (TISOC) is "Colorado's children with behavioral health challenges will reach their full potential through effective and efficient services and supports." TISOC seeks to implement in Colorado a trauma-informed child and family service system.

As defined by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, such a system involves parties who recognize and respond to the impact of traumatic stress on those who have contact with the system including children, caregivers, and service providers. Programs and agencies within the aforementioned system infuse and sustain trauma awareness, knowledge, and skills into their organizational cultures, practices, and policies. They act in collaboration with all those who are involved with the child, using the best available science, to facilitate and support the recovery and resiliency of the child and family.

Building on the Collaborative Management Program (CMP) structure, the Trauma-Informed System of Care involves the public mental health, child welfare, juvenile justice, and education systems. The goals of the Trauma-Informed System of Care are implemented in Colorado through a cohort community based model, Communities of Excellence, that allows cohorts of communities to plan and implement Trauma-Informed System of Care together while also identifying possible local adaptions for the base Trauma-Informed System of Care services and supports.

Communities of Excellence

Currently, the Trauma-Informed System of Care supports 16 Communities of Excellence in 20 counties throughout the state. Future Trauma-Informed System of Care expansions will continue in the remaining CMP counties. A statewide goal for the Trauma-Informed System of Care is to develop a sustainable infrastructure to coordinate and pay for services for families of children and youth with complex needs, many of whom are involved with child welfare.

Each Community of Excellence receives funding to support wraparound facilitators, family advocates, infrastructure development, and flexible services for families. Currently the 16 communities have 18 trained wraparound facilitators and 13 family advocates working with families. Based on the recommendations of a meta-analysis of Colorado reports and evidence from other states, Colorado is piloting the wraparound model through the care management entity (CME) in El Paso County. A CME is a centralized organization that blends funding, organizes services and supports, and serves as a locus of accountability across agencies.

Trauma-Informed System of Care is supported by a cooperative agreement between CDHS and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and is administered by the Office of Behavioral Health in partnership with the Office of Children, Youth and Families.

Tribal Involvement

The Indian Child Welfare Act is a law that applies to state, county and private child welfare agencies. It covers tribal children from all American Indian and Alaska Native tribes listed in the Federal Register. ICWA supports Indian tribes' authority over their members and the well-being of Indian children and families.

Colorado has two federally recognized tribes: the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and the Southern Ute Tribe. The Tribal Consultation Agreement, signed by the CDHS executive director in 2012, and the work of the counties where tribes are located has improved Colorado's collaboration and consultation with the tribes. In addition, a CDHS liaison serves as a continuous point of contact for tribes as well as a member of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs.