Child welfare forms and policies

The following folders and files contain forms and resources for the Colorado Division of Child Welfare.

Child welfare forms
Child welfare policies
Adoption Assistance Policies

Each county human services department determines the type of adoption assistance and eligibility in accordance with state and federal regulations. For more information regarding a county's specific policy regarding adoption assistance download county-specific adoption assistance policies below.

Learn more about adoption assistance here.


Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act

The key federal legislation addressing child abuse and neglect is the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), originally enacted on January 31, 1974. CAPTA was amended several times and was most recently amended and reauthorized by the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-320). CAPTA provides federal funding to states in support of prevention, assessment, investigation, prosecution, and treatment activities and also provides grants to public agencies and nonprofit organizations, including Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations, for demonstration programs and projects. Additionally, CAPTA identifies the federal role in supporting research, evaluation, technical assistance, and data collection activities; established the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect; and mandates Child Welfare Information Gateway. CAPTA also sets forth a minimum definition of child abuse and neglect.

CAPTA in Colorado

(1) The intake, assessment, screening, and investigation of reports of abuse or neglect;

(2) (A) Creating and improving the use of multidisciplinary teams and interagency, intra-agency, interstate, and intrastate  protocols to enhance investigations; and 
     (B) Improving legal preparation and representation;

(3) Case management, including ongoing case monitoring, and delivery of services and treatment provided to children and their families;

(4) Enhancing the general child protective system by developing, improving, and implementing risk and safety assessment tools and protocols, including the use of differential response;

(6) Developing, strengthening, and facilitating training including:
    (A) Training regarding research-based strategies, including the use of differential response, to promote collaboration with families;
    (B) Training regarding the legal duties of such individuals; 
    (C) Personal safety training for case workers; and
    (D) Training in early childhood, child and adolescent development;

(7) Improving the skills, qualifications and availability of individuals providing services to children and families, and the supervisors of such individuals, through the child protection system, including improvements in the recruitment and retention of caseworkers;

(13)  Supporting and enhancing interagency collaboration among public health agencies, agencies in the child protective service system, and agencies carrying out private community-based programs -  
    (A) To provide child abuse and neglect prevention and treatment services (including linkages with education systems), and the use of differential response; and
    (B) To address the health needs, including mental health needs, of children identified as victims of abuse or neglect, including supporting prompt, comprehensive health and developmental evaluations for children who are the subject of substantiated child maltreatment reports.

Children’s Justice Act

The Children’s Justice Act (CJA) was originally enacted in 1984 as part of the Victims of Crime Act to encourage states to improve the handling of child abuse cases and, in particular, child sexual abuse cases. Most recently, CJA was reauthorized through the 2010 Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA, P.L. 111-320).

Section 107(a) of CAPTA authorizes grants to states for the purpose of assisting states in developing, establishing and operating programs designed to improve: 

  1. The assessment and investigation of suspected child abuse and neglect cases, including cases of suspected child sexual abuse and exploitation, in a manner that limits additional trauma to the child and the child’s family; 
  2. The assessment and investigation of cases of suspected child abuse-related fatalities and suspected child neglect-related fatalities; 
  3. The investigation and prosecution of cases of child abuse and neglect, including child sexual abuse and exploitation; and 
  4. The assessment and investigation of cases involving children with disabilities or serious health-related problems who are suspected victims of child abuse or neglect.

Section 107(c) of CAPTA requires states to create a multidisciplinary CJA Task Force composed of professionals and individuals with knowledge and experience relating to the criminal justice system and issues of child physical abuse, child neglect, child sexual abuse and exploitation, and child maltreatment-related fatalities. 

The CJA Task Force:

  1. Reviews and evaluates state investigative, administrative, and both civil and criminal judicial handling of cases of child abuse and neglect, including child sexual abuse and exploitation, as well as cases involving suspected child maltreatment-related fatalities and cases involving a potential combination of jurisdictions, such as intrastate, interstate, federal-state, and state-tribal; and 
  2. Makes policy and training recommendations in each of the categories described in subsection (e) of this section. The task force may make such other comments and recommendations as are considered relevant and useful.

Current Recommendations from the Colorado CJA Task Force

The Colorado CJA Task Force current system recommendations are as follows:

  1. Build capacity in rural areas to ensure procedural fairness in the investigative, administrative, and judicial handling of cases of child abuse and neglect.
  2. Develop resources that ensure procedural fairness in the investigative, administrative, and judicial handling of cases of child abuse and neglect.
  3. Continue to develop and support training opportunities for child protection workers, domestic violence advocates, law enforcement officers, GALs, and judges to improve the investigative, administrative, and judicial handling of cases of child abuse and neglect.
  4. Support the activities of the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) Fatality Review Team and the CDHS Child Fatality Review Team (CFRT) in disseminating information statewide.
  5. Coordinate efforts with other recommending bodies to identify areas that support system responses to child abuse and neglect. 
  6. Explore and make recommendations on the needs of youth who are involved across the Division of Youth Services and the Division of Child Welfare.
Indian Child Welfare Act

The Indian Child Welfare Act or ("ICWA") 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.
Under ICWA, a child is Indian if he or she has a mother or father who is a member of an Indian tribe.  The child must also be a member of a tribe OR be eligible for membership.
History tells us why; Indian tribes are sovereign nations. The U.S. government has a unique political relationship with Indian nations through treaties that it does not have with any other peoples in our county.
Sadly, countless number of Indian children have been removed from their families and tribes.  Boarding schools run by the government and other groups kept school-age children away from their homes.  Many children lost their traditions and culture and experienced serious problems later in life. 

Often, child welfare agency workers used their own cultural believes to decide if Indian children were being raised properly.  Also, many have not understood the importance of the extended family--relatives other than mother or father--in bringing up children in native cultures.
Many believe that the law only applies to Indian children living on reservations. The law applies to all Indian children, wherever they may live.  Therefore, it is important that child welfare workers assess ancestry of all children referred for neglect and abuse.  If known, the child's tribe must always be notified by certified mail of any court proceedings involving placing children in foster care, termination of parental or adoption.  Where ancestry is not clear, the Bureau of Indian Affairs should be notified.
First, ICWA means that every efforts will be made to try to keep families together.  If removal is necessary, "active rehabilitative efforts" must be made to bring the families together.  This means that everything possible must be done to help the families resolve the problems that led to neglect or abuse, including referral to services that are sensitive to the family's culture. If a child is removed, ICWA requires that child welfare agencies must actively seek to place a child with relatives, a tribal family or an Indian family before placing the child in a non-Indian home.

Papers that need to be kept in a safe place include: enrollment numbers and certificates of Indian Blood (CIBs); census numbers or blood quantum cards; and birth certificates with the mother's and father's names listed.  Other things that may help include a family tree or a genealogy record. If you are referred for child neglect or abuse and need legal help, you have the right to a court appointed attorney if you cannot afford one.

Download ICWA forms below.

Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children

The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) is a law that has been enacted by all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands. This law establishes orderly procedures for the interstate placement of children and fixes responsibilities for those involved in placing the child. 

Colorado decentralized its ICPC function to 64 local county departments of social/human services. CDHS has delegated the responsibility and functions associated with interstate placements requests to local county department of social services. Each county has an ICPC liaison that processes and monitor interstate placements. ICPC includes referrals on parents, relatives, foster parents, adoptive parents, and residential treatment facilities. Click to learn more about ICPC.

Policy Impacting Unaccompanied Refugee Minors

The Refugee Act of 1980 (PL 96-212) established the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and provides authority for child welfare services provided through the Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Program program (URM) in Colorado. The Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Program must comply with both federal Office of Refugee Resettlement regulations as well as state law and rule.

The Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980 (PL 96-422) authorizes ORR to provide the same benefits available to refugees and asylees to Cuban and Haitian entrants, as does the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (PL 106-386) for victims of a severe form of human trafficking.  

Two recent laws specifically authorize the provision of child welfare services described in the Refugee Act to additional groups: 

  • The Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act of 2008 (PL 110-457) extends URM eligibility to Special Immigrant Juveniles who were in the custody of ORR or were receiving services as Cuban or Haitian entrants at the time a dependency order was signed, and 
  • The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (PL  113-4) extends URM eligibility to victims of crime who have received U status.

The lists below provides links to the federal policies and regulations which guide the URM program:

Reasonable and Prudent Parent Standards

All children and teens need normal experiences to promote their growth, to make mistakes and learn from their experiences. Social and emotional well-being is critical to personal development. Normalcy allows children and teens in foster care, or other out of home placement, to experience childhood and adolescence in similar ways to their peers who are not in foster care. The importance of normalcy was recognized in the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Supporting Families Act, Sec. 471. [42 U.S.C. 671] (a) (10),  signed in 2014, which required states to implement a reasonable and prudent parent standard. 

A reasonable and prudent parent standard means careful and sensible parental decisions that maintain the health, safety, and best interests of a child or teen in foster care, while encouraging their emotional and developmental growth.  In Colorado, county human services departments each develop their own respective policies outlining the parameters of decisions that contracted providers may make regarding the children or teens in the counties’ legal custody. To aid communication between the counties and all contracted providers, including foster parents, group home providers and other licensed facilities, the State maintains a library of reasonable and prudent parent standards policies, available for download below.