Child Welfare Core Services Program

The Core Services Program was established within CDHS in 1994 and is statutorily required to provide strength-based resources and support to families when children/youth are at imminent risk of out-of-home placement, in need of services to return home, or to maintain a placement in the least restrictive setting possible. Responding to the complexity and variability in the needs of children, youth, and families across the diverse regions of Colorado, the Core Services Program combines the consistency of centralized state administrative oversight with the flexibility and accountability of a county-run system. This approach allows for individualized services to meet the needs of children, youth, and families across diverse Colorado communities.

Core Services Program Goals 

  • Focus on the family strengths by directing intensive services that support and strengthen the family and/or protect the child/youth; 
  • Prevent out-of-home placement of the child/youth; 
  • Return children/youth in placement to their own home; or, 
  • Unite children/youth with their permanent families. 
  • Provide services that protect the child/youth. 

"To return children/youth in placement to their own home or to unite children/youth with their permanent families" is defined as return to the home of a parent, an adoptive placement, guardianship, independent living placement, foster-adoption placement or to live with a relative/kin if the goal for the child in the Family Services Plan is to remain in the placement on a permanent basis. 

Family Preservation is the Foundation

The Core Services Program is based on a foundation of research and practice in family preservation. Family preservation services are generally short-term, family-based services designed to support families in crisis by improving parenting and family functioning while keeping children/youth safe. These services developed, in part, as a response to a federal requirement to demonstrate reasonable efforts to prevent removal of children from their homes. Family preservation services grew out of the recognition that children/youth need a safe and stable family and that separating children/youth from their families and communities removes them from natural supports and often causes trauma, leaving lasting negative effects.

In Colorado, a subsection of the legislation mandating the Family Preservation Commissions defines “family preservation services” as assistance that focuses on a family’s strengths and empowers a family by providing alternative problem-solving techniques and child-rearing practices, as well as promoting effective responses to stressful living situations for the family. This assistance includes resources that are available to supplement existing informal support systems for the family. 

Family Preservation Services

There are ten designated types of family preservation services, listed below, and this array of services constitutes the Core Services Program. 

  • Aftercare Services: Any of the Core Services provided to prepare a child for reunification with his/her family or other permanent placement and to prevent future out-of-home placement of the child.
  • County Designed Services: An optional service tailored by the specific county in meeting the needs of families and children in the community in order to prevent the out-of-home placement of children or facilitate reunification or another form of permanence. County designed services encompass components of the menu of Core Services, yet are structured in their delivery and tracked uniquely to gain detailed data on evidenced-based programs, as well as programs that are providing positive outcomes in communities around the state. 
  • Day Treatment: Comprehensive, highly structured services that provide education to children and therapy to children and their families.
  • Home-Based Intervention: Services provided primarily in the home of the client and include a variety of services, which can include therapeutic services, concrete services, collateral services and crisis intervention directed to meet the needs of the child and family. See Section 7.303.14 for service elements of therapeutic, concrete, collateral, and crisis intervention.
  • Intensive Family Therapy: Therapeutic intervention typically with all family members to improve family communication, functioning, and relationships.
  • Life Skills: Services provided primarily in the home that teach household management, effectively accessing community resources, parenting techniques, and family conflict management.
  • Mental Health Services: Diagnostic and/or therapeutic services to assist in the development of the family services plan and to assess and/or improve family communication, functioning, and relationships.
  • Sexual Abuse Treatment: Therapeutic intervention designed to address issues and behaviors related to sexual abuse victimization, sexual dysfunction, sexual abuse perpetration, and to prevent further sexual abuse and victimization.
  • Special Economic Assistance: Emergency financial assistance of not more than $2,000 per family per year in the form of cash and/or vendor payment to purchase hard services. See Section 7.303.14 for service elements of hard services.
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Services: Diagnostic and/or therapeutic services to assist in the development of the family service plan, to assess and/or improve family communication, functioning and relationships, and to prevent further abuse of drugs or alcohol.

Core Services Program Eligibility

In order to be eligible for the Core Services Program, each child, youth, and family shall: 

  • Meet Program Area Three eligibility criteria; or
  • Meet the criteria for Program Area 4, 5, or 6 target group; and, 
    • Meet the Colorado out-of-home placement criteria at the time of each placement in any Core Services Program; and/or, 
    • Require a more restrictive level of care but may be maintained at a less restrictive out-of-home placement or in his/her own home with Core services.