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System of Care


In 2012, The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) was awarded a System of Care Implementation Grant from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  Colorado is one of 16 sites nationally to be awarded the grant, and will receive up to one million dollars per year, for four years, to implement the system of care approach across the state.


Previously in 2011, Colorado received a one-year system of care expansion planning grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to develop a blueprint for expanding the approach statewide.  The system of care model is a non-categorical approach to improving and integrating services and supports for children and youth with serious behavioral health challenges and their families.  Colorado will focus on children with serious behavioral health challenges from birth through age 25 who are in, or at imminent risk of, out of home placement.    Colorado’s plan centers on developing local community-based service systems supported by a state-level steering committee of the Behavioral Health Transformation Council, which was established in 2010 pursuant to Section 27-61-101, et seq., C.R.S.  The Council, whose mission is to improve the behavioral health system, consists of  representatives of the Governor’s Office,  General Assembly, Judicial Branch, state agencies that fund or provide behavioral health services,  individuals who have lived experience with behavioral health challenges, family members, and service providers.

Key features of Colorado’s system of care framework include individualized and culturally and linguistically relevant services and supports facilitated by an intensive care coordination model known as high fidelity wraparound.  Colorado will be developing trauma-informed services and family advocates to assist families whose children are experiencing difficulties.  Colorado will test a model of service delivery known as a care management entity, which will blend funds, integrate services and supports, and serve as the locus of accountability for care across systems. 

Eight communities were chosen during the planning process to create their own local system of care plans and inform development of the state plan.  Those communities, known as Communities of Excellence, are:  Arapahoe, Chaffee, El Paso, Larimer, Montrose, Eagle, Weld counties, and the San Luis Valley. Throughout the planning process, the communities built on existing collaboration; conducted focus groups, surveys of families, youth, and other stakeholders; and, designed a plan based on this input.   Additional Communities of Excellence will be added through a four-year SAMHSA-supported system of care implementation project beginning in 2013.  Hundreds of stakeholders participated in developing this plan through the Communities of Excellence and workgroups focused on family involvement, youth engagement, social marketing, and cultural responsiveness. 

The plan will be reviewed and revised on a regular basis to ensure accountability and adaptability.  Please click here to review the SOC plan approved by the Behavioral Health Transformation Council October 26, 2012.