CDHS Research Internship Program

As part of our effort to build stronger partnerships with outside researchers, CDHS has created the State Human Services Applied Research Practicum (SHARP) Fellowship for graduate students.

Through this nine-month practicum, students:

  • Learn about program evaluation and analysis methods in the context of human services programs

  • Gain practical experience applying research and evaluation techniques

  • Complete a research project with a formal writeup and presentation

  • Attend bi-weekly learning seminars

Seminar topics covered include the overall design and methodology for evaluations, assessing community and program needs, formulating program theory through logic modeling, practical applications of predictive analytics and geomapping, outcome and process measurement and preparing research and evaluation reports.

Below is a summary of the projects done by our previous SHARP Fellows. The information gained from these studies will be used to improve how CDHS and its partners work together to effectively serve vulnerable Coloradans. For more information on the SHARP Fellowship, see the 2018-19 curriculum.

William Schumann (2017-18) sought to identify risk and protective factors associated with resident falls in the Veterans Community Living Centers. Schumann produced a model that, using data known on day 3 of a newly admitted resident's stay, can predict with 73 percent accuracy whether the resident will fall within the next 90 days. The Veterans Centers are considering how to apply this new tool to enhance their current efforts to proactively prevent falls. Schumann was later hired by the CDHS Performance Management Division. Read more about Schumann's study here.

Annalise Yahne (2017-18) identified useful performance measures for the Juvenile Parole Board. This project resulted in a number of useful products including a logic model, measurement of the timeliness of victim notification, improvements to the way the JPB workload and results are tracked, and factors that may be correlated with youth re-involvement. Yahne provided additional recommendations to the JPB board, staff and department managers, and those recommendations are under consideration. She was later hired by Denver Human Services. Read more about Yahne's study here.

Aurora Melnyk (2016-17) identified risk and protective factors associated with youth crossing between the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. She produced a predictive model that articulates a number of risk and protective factors for youth crossover. She determined that not all youth crossover is bad; particularly, crossover from youth services to child welfare may be good when it is addressing clients needs better served by child welfare. She was later hired by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. Read more about Melnyk's study here.

Sharon Zanti (2016-17) explored Adult Protective Services (APS) data for trends that might point to potential opportunities to improve services. Zanti defined a new metric for APS — “repeat involvement” — and produced a detailed report by case and demographic factors for program use and to facilitate a dialog with counties on clients who repeatedly come back into the APS system. She was later hired by the CDHS Performance Management Division. Read more about Zanti's study here.

Samantha Hughes (summer 2016) investigated whether receipt of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits may prevent re-entry into the child welfare system. Hughes found that while much of the data indicated that a correlation between SNAP receipt and a reduced likelihood of re-entry was plausible, the model produced yielded inconclusive results due to methodological concerns. She was later hired by the CDHS Employment and Benefits Unit.