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Boulder County to Implement Differential Response

Boulder County has joined five other Colorado counties to utilize a technique in child welfare known as Differential Response (DR). The evidence-based, best practice model works to strengthen families with wrap-around services following reports of possible child abuse or neglect.

DR provides two distinct investigative procedures. In high-risk cases, county caseworkers follow a traditional approach to investigate allegations of child abuse and/or neglect.

A second option for caseworkers through DR provides support services such as counseling, health check-ups, and other assessments to determine if the child is safe and whether a full-scale investigation is needed.

In both approaches, caseworkers monitor and track families to make certain there are no risks to children.

"Differential Response has given us a wonderful tool to partner with families to keep children safe," said Julie Krow, director, Office of Children, Youth & Families, CDHS. "Boulder County has already demonstrated significant success in child welfare, and we’re pleased to be able to support them in this initiative."

For the past few months, CDHS has provided assistance to Boulder County in the form of DR training, coaching, and technical assistance.  The department also will help the county provide family support services.

"This represents a significant step forward in child welfare,” said Boulder County Commissioner Cindy Domenico. “Every family needs help now and then, and Differential Response will boost our ability to be there when our families need crucial support."

Arapahoe, Fremont, Garfield, Jefferson, and Larimer began piloting DR in 2010. Since the pilot counties began using DR, the initiative has helped support and protect 10,000 children from 5,000 families.
CDHS is expecting eight more counties to implement DR by spring 2014.