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CDHS takes bold action to re-imagine child welfare system

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DENVER (April 24, 2023) — The Colorado Department of Human Services’ Office of Children, Youth and Families (OCYF) launched a new Child Welfare Family Advisory Council focused on strengthening and enhancing Colorado's child welfare system. The council is an important step in Colorado’s efforts to re-envision, create, and deliver family-driven input to transform Colorado’s child welfare work. 

At a time when the child welfare system across the nation has been called into action like never before, and has had to serve families in unprecedented ways following the COVID-19 pandemic, the Child Welfare Family Advisory Council is an effort a long time in the making. The council’s goal is to help improve practices, policies, engagement and outcomes between child welfare departments and the families we serve.

The Child Welfare Family Advisory Council kicked off its first meeting in January and plans to continue monthly public meetings through mid-2024. The Council will elevate the voices of individuals with experience of contact or involvement with the child welfare system to help shape and improve planning, policies, and procedures of child welfare and maltreatment prevention services.

“This model is ‘with families and for families’; we are taking bold action to create a child welfare system and family-strengthening services that Coloradans want to participate in and engage with,” said Joseph Homlar, OCYF Director of the Division of Child Welfare. “We are grateful for all the participation thus far to set up a new Child Welfare Family Advisory Council and are open to hearing bold ideas. We look forward to more intentional engagement with families.”

While Colorado’s 2022 rates of child and youth out-of-home placements were the lowest in the state’s history, its child welfare system remains heavily invested in out-of-home care, foster and adoption services, and investigations of alleged child abuse and neglect. With the Child Welfare Family Advisory Council, OCYF is directly asking families what positive supports and services they need to thrive, to prevent child maltreatment, and to avoid unnecessary out-of-home placement. The council has already begun to gather and leverage ideas and promote meaningful discussion around such topics as the Colorado’s Relative Guardian Assistance Program, engagement with biological families, kinship care, the Family First Prevention Services Act, and many other pieces of Colorado’s child welfare system.

The CDHS Office of Children, Youth and Families is responsible for the coordination of quality and effective services for Colorado’s most vulnerable children, youth, and their families. The office supervises Colorado's child welfare system and operates the state's youth services system, as well as several other programs.

Media contact:
Kelly Tabor, Communications Manager