Colorado Statute allows the District Court several sentencing options when committing juveniles to the Colorado Department of Human Services, Division of Youth Corrections. These options include non-mandatory sentences for up to 24 months, mandatory sentences for up to 24 months and special sentences such as Aggravated Juvenile Offender, Repeat Juvenile Offender and Violent Juvenile Offender. The latter categories allow for sentences up to 7 years in length.
The Division operates a full continuum of services for committed youth through a Continuum of Care model. The Continuum of Care guides the activities of the Division throughout the commitment process from the initial assessment to residential placement, transition and parole supervision and services. The model incorporates the Five Key Strategies outlined earlier, as a foundational framework for planning, decision making and service provision. The stages of the commitment process are outlined below.
Statute mandates that the Division of Youth Corrections provide a comprehensive assessment for all youth within the first 30 days of their commitment. This assessment includes
Assessment may include:
Following the completion of the assessment, a multi-disciplinary team meets to discuss the youth and family’s needs, placement type, and future transition plan.
Almost without exception, youth are moved to a permanent placement following the Assessment staffing.
The Division of Youth Corrections provides residential treatment services to committed youth and their families in either State operated secure programs or private contract placements. Individualized treatment and transition plans are developed for each youth. Residential placements offer a variety of services that include education, vocation, medical, substance abuse, individual, group and family treatment, offense specific treatment, recreation, gender specific treatment and transition.
State Operated Secure Treatment Programs
Two of the Division of Youth Corrections secure facilities, Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center and Zeb Pike Youth Services Center, serve committed youth exclusively. These programs are designed to treat the highest risk, highest need committed males. The Division also operates five multi-purpose facilities that, in addition to acting as juvenile detention facilities, provide longer term treatment to committed youth. Detailed information on each facility can be found in the Facilities Section.
State Owned Privately Operated Facilities
Colorado contracts with private providers to operate three State owned facilities, the Ridge View Youth Services Center, the Betty K. Marler Youth Services Center and the Robert E. Denier Youth Services Center. Ridge View is a 500 bed open campus designed to operate with an academic/vocational focus. The Betty Marler program is a 40 bed program for the Division’s highest risk and highest need girls. Robert E. Denier is a multi-purpose facility located in Durango. The program provides detention and treatment for committed boys and girls.
Private Contract Programs
DYC contracts with a variety of private providers for community programs that range from staff-secure treatment programs to foster homes licensed through the State. Placement alternatives include TRCCF level (Therapeutic Residential Child Care Facilities), RCCF (Residential Child Care Facilities), Group home and foster homes. These programs act both as initial treatment programs and as transition placements for youth moving from more secure settings. In addition, these programs may also focus on specific populations or the provision of specific services, such as treating youth with high mental health needs, pregnant girls, or youth transitioning to independent living.
The Division of Youth Corrections provides a comprehensive array of services to youth who are transitioning from either State operated secure placements or community residential placements to their home communities. These services are “backed-in” to residential programs to facilitate successful transition back to the community. Services are provided through a combination of placement staff and non-residential programs contracted through Regional Offices. Transition services may include: obtaining necessary documentation (birth certificates, social security cards), family services such as Multi-Systemic Therapy or Functional Family Therapy, mentoring, cognitive behavioral groups, substance abuse relapse prevention, supervision, employment training and job placement, independent living prep and support, direct support, and educational support.
Colorado Statute requires that every committed youth exiting the Division of Youth Corrections must serve six months mandatory parole. Cases that meet certain criteria may be extended by 15 months. Independent of the Division of Youth Corrections, the Colorado Juvenile Parole Board hears the cases of each youth preparing for parole, sets terms and conditions and has the authority to modify, suspend or revoke parole.
The Division of Youth Corrections is responsible for the operation of the Juvenile Parole system. This includes providing parole supervision to each committed youth. Parole supervision is accomplished through the Client Manager/Parole Officer system located within regional offices. Parole Officers are responsible for ensuring parole plans are designed in accordance with each youth’s level of risk and need.