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Expand the sections below to explore Child Welfare Policies, Data & Accountability documents, or scroll down to learn more about the division's quality assurance and performance management processes.
The Division of Child Welfare (DCW), in partnership with the University of Kansas School of Social Work, created the CDHS Community Performance Center to serve as an educational website and the data center, sharing real-time data about the children, youth and families involved in Colorado’s child welfare system in an effort to engage communities in the unmet needs of abused and neglected children in their community and neighborhood.
If the information you are seeking is unavailable on the CDHS Community Performance Center, please complete the form below to submit a data requested from the Division of Child Welfare. Please allow at least two weeks for completion.
If you have any questions, please contact us.
The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 established a program of adoption assistance, strengthened the program of foster care assistance for needy and dependent children, and improved the child welfare, social services, and aid to families with dependent children programs. The act required states to make adoption assistance payments, which take into account the circumstances of the adopting parents and the child, to parents who adopt a child who is AFDC-eligible and is a child with special needs.
The act defines a child with special needs as a child who:
Adoption assistance is intended to help or remove financial or other barriers to the adoption of Colorado children with special needs by providing assistance to the parent(s) in caring for and raising the child. Financial support and/or services are provided to adoptive parent(s) in certain defined and limited ways to meet the needs of an eligible adopted child. At a minimum, if a family receives adoption assistance from a county, the adopted child is eligible for Medicaid. Colorado operates two adoption assistance programs: the Title IV-E program and non-Title IV-E adoption assistance. See CDHS Volume 7 Rule - CCR 7.306.4 for detailed information regarding eligibility .
Target groups for adoption assistance agreements are:
Each county human services department determines the type of adoption assistance and eligibility in accordance with state and federal regulations.
Download county-specific adoption assistance policies below.
Colorado’s case review system is administered by the Administrative Review Division (ARD). Independent from CDHS’ Division of Child Welfare and county departments of human services, ARD is aligned with CDHS’ larger quality assurance system within the department’s Office of Performance and Strategic Outcomes. Since its inception in 1991, ARD has developed strong internal processes to ensure consistency across reviewers. The division works collaboratively with the Division of Child Welfare, the Division of Youth Corrections, and county departments to develop review tools and processes. Additionally, the division uses an instrument that is mapped directly to the CFSR On-site review instrument (OSRI), including the multiple items that comprise the Systemic Factors.
Through its case reviews, ARD provides helpful information to CDHS, county departments and caseworkers. The case reviews often highlight areas where additional training or technical assistance are needed. Analysis of data collected from ARD’s review process identifies developing trends in Colorado’s child welfare practice. Out-of-home (OOH) case reviews provide a forum for parents, providers, children, and youth to share their information and concerns. The efficacy of Colorado’s case review process is supported by research that shows children whose cases where reviewed timely achieved permanency 10 months sooner than those whose cases were not reviewed timely.
The key federal legislation addressing child abuse and neglect is the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), originally enacted on January 31, 1974. CAPTA was amended several times and was most recently amended and reauthorized by the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-320). CAPTA provides federal funding to states in support of prevention, assessment, investigation, prosecution, and treatment activities and also provides grants to public agencies and nonprofit organizations, including Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations, for demonstration programs and projects. Additionally, CAPTA identifies the federal role in supporting research, evaluation, technical assistance, and data collection activities; established the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect; and mandates Child Welfare Information Gateway. CAPTA also sets forth a minimum definition of child abuse and neglect.
(1) The intake, assessment, screening, and investigation of reports of abuse or neglect;
(2) (A) Creating and improving the use of multidisciplinary teams and interagency, intra-agency, interstate, and intrastate protocols to enhance investigations; and
(B) Improving legal preparation and representation;
(3) Case management, including ongoing case monitoring, and delivery of services and treatment provided to children and their families;
(4) Enhancing the general child protective system by developing, improving, and implementing risk and safety assessment tools and protocols, including the use of differential response;
(6) Developing, strengthening, and facilitating training including:
(A) Training regarding research-based strategies, including the use of differential response, to promote collaboration with families;
(B) Training regarding the legal duties of such individuals;
(C) Personal safety training for case workers; and
(D) Training in early childhood, child and adolescent development;
(7) Improving the skills, qualifications and availability of individuals providing services to children and families, and the supervisors of such individuals, through the child protection system, including improvements in the recruitment and retention of caseworkers;
(13) Supporting and enhancing interagency collaboration among public health agencies, agencies in the child protective service system, and agencies carrying out private community-based programs -
(A) To provide child abuse and neglect prevention and treatment services (including linkages with education systems), and the use of differential response; and
(B) To address the health needs, including mental health needs, of children identified as victims of abuse or neglect, including supporting prompt, comprehensive health and developmental evaluations for children who are the subject of substantiated child maltreatment reports.
Click to learn about the Administrative Review Division's Child Fatality Review process and view data.
Children’s Justice Act (CJA) was originally enacted in 1984 as part of the Victims of Crime Act to encourage states to improve the handling of child abuse cases and, in particular, child sexual abuse cases. Most recently, CJA was reauthorized through the 2010 Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA, P.L. 111-320).
Section 107(a) of CAPTA authorizes grants to states for the purpose of assisting states in developing, establishing and operating programs designed to improve:
Section 107(c) of CAPTA requires states to create a multidisciplinary CJA Task Force composed of professionals and individuals with knowledge and experience relating to the criminal justice system and issues of child physical abuse, child neglect, child sexual abuse and exploitation, and child maltreatment-related fatalities.
The CJA Task Force:
The Colorado CJA Task Force current system recommendations are as follows:
The Colorado Children’s Justice Act Task Force and the Office of Children, Youth and Families are pleased to announce travel scholarships available for Colorado professionals to attend in-state training to improve the investigation, administration, and judicial handling of cases of child abuse and neglect. Submit the application below.
The Indian Child Welfare Act or ("ICWA") is a law that applies to state, county and private child welfare agencies. It covers tribal children from all American Indian and Alaska Native tribes listed in the Federal Register. ICWA supports Indian tribes' authority over their members and the well-being of Indian children and families.
Under ICWA, a child is Indian if he or she has a mother or father who is a member of an Indian tribe. The child must also be a member of a tribe OR be eligible for membership.
History tells us why; Indian tribes are sovereign nations. The U.S. government has a unique political relationship with Indian nations through treaties that it does not have with any other peoples in our county.
Sadly, countless number of Indian children have been removed from their families and tribes. Boarding schools run by the government and other groups kept school-age children away from their homes. Many children lost their traditions and culture and experienced serious problems later in life.
Often, child welfare agency workers used their own cultural believes to decide if Indian children were being raised properly. Also, many have not understood the importance of the extended family--relatives other than mother or father--in bringing up children in native cultures.
Many believe that the law only applies to Indian children living on reservations. The law applies to all Indian children, wherever they may live. Therefore, it is important that child welfare workers assess ancestry of all children referred for neglect and abuse. If known, the child's tribe must always be notified by certified mail of any court proceedings involving placing children in foster care, termination of parental or adoption. Where ancestry is not clear, the Bureau of Indian Affairs should be notified.
First, ICWA means that every efforts will be made to try to keep families together. If removal is necessary, "active rehabilitative efforts" must be made to bring the families together. This means that everything possible must be done to help the families resolve the problems that led to neglect or abuse, including referral to services that are sensitive to the family's culture. If a child is removed, ICWA requires that child welfare agencies must actively seek to place a child with relatives, a tribal family or an Indian family before placing the child in a non-Indian home.
Papers that need to be kept in a safe place include: enrollment numbers and certificates of Indian Blood (CIBs); census numbers or blood quantum cards; and birth certificates with the mother's and father's names listed. Other things that may help include a family tree or a genealogy record. If you are referred for child neglect or abuse and need legal help, you have the right to a court appointed attorney if you cannot afford one.
Contact the Division of Child Welfare with questions about ICWA.
Download ICWA forms below.
The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) is a law that has been enacted by all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands. This law establishes orderly procedures for the interstate placement of children and fixes responsibilities for those involved in placing the child.
Colorado decentralized its ICPC function to 64 local county departments of social/human services. CDHS has delegated the responsibility and functions associated with interstate placements requests to local county department of social services. Each county has an ICPC liaison that processes and monitor interstate placements. ICPC includes referrals on parents, relatives, foster parents, adoptive parents, and residential treatment facilities. Click to learn more about ICPC.
The Refugee Act of 1980 (PL 96-212) established the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and provides authority for child welfare services provided through the Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Program program (URM) in Colorado. The Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Program must comply with both federal Office of Refugee Resettlement regulations as well as state law and rule.
The Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980 (PL 96-422) authorizes ORR to provide the same benefits available to refugees and asylees to Cuban and Haitian entrants, as does the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (PL 106-386) for victims of a severe form of human trafficking.
Two recent laws specifically authorize the provision of child welfare services described in the Refugee Act to additional groups:
The lists below provides links to the federal policies and regulations which guide the URM program:
Go to the Publications & Reports page and expand the Child Welfare Publications & Reports section to browse our library.
Trails is Colorado’s certified state-county SACWIS system. It is a complex and comprehensive system that has evolved over its 13-year history. Since its implementation in 2001, Trails has been continually enhanced to address issues and meet the changing needs of CDHS. Since county departments of human services service have many youth involved with the DYC, a separate module was created for DYC services. Trails integrates, with limitations, 11 data systems owned by other child and family serving state agencies. State and county users depend heavily on the approximately 1,000 structured and ad-hoc reports, which were developed from Trails to satisfy federal reporting requirements and to assess the performance and effectiveness of Colorado’s child welfare services. In 2013–2014, Colorado enhanced Trails by adding the Results Oriented Management (ROM) System and the CDHS Community Performance Center, a public-facing child welfare e-data website.
Trails has been incrementally updated over the last 13 years, however, the system is rooted in outdated technology and architecture. The system’s interface is not reflective of modern technology and has limited mobility capabilities. OCYF contracted for an evaluation of the current system and any recommendations for potential system upgrades. The report confirmed that a system overhaul is needed. OCYF is examining its options.
CDHS utilizes four initiatives to assess and drive improvements to the state’s and counties’ performance on the measures associated with the Child and Family Services Review outcomes and systemic factors. These initiatives include:
Together, these initiatives constitute a dynamic Quality Assurance System that creates a robust process for quantitative and qualitative analysis of the state and counties’ performance, and thorough identification of strengths, weaknesses and potential solutions to improve our performance and our service to children, youth and families involved in Colorado’s child welfare system.
CDHS partnered with the University of Kansas School of Social Work to develop a Results Oriented Management (ROM) system for Colorado. This online reporting tool provides both state and county staff with the ability to share data that is more current, drill down and analyze it in different ways aimed at creating a better understanding of the system’s numerous successes and challenges.
Additionally, as part of an ongoing effort to increase transparency and accountability in child welfare in Colorado, CDHS has created an educational website and public data center. For many years, data about the services provided through the Division of Child Welfare (DCW) has been shared by publishing an annual DCW Data Book that describes in detail the trends, allocations and data for the State Fiscal Year. Through the CDHS Community Performance Center website, CDHS provides the public with similar online reporting tools and reports that are available in Colorado ROM, while protecting confidential information of the children and families served through child welfare services.
The Administrative Review Division (ARD) serves as an independent third party review system under the auspices of the CDHS. ARD is the mechanism responsible for the federally required Case Review System and a portion of the Quality Assurance System for both the DCW and the Division of Youth Corrections. With an ultimate goal of providing permanency and well-being for Colorado's children, the ARD works closely with Colorado's counties to train, measure and assess their adherence to state and federal regulations.
ARD conducts three types of reviews that inform the child welfare system:
ARD OOH reviews are scheduled at six-month intervals as long as the child/youth is in OOH care. Prior to the onsite review, an ARD reviewer reviews the case file in Trails. The case file review is followed by an onsite review in which families, youth, care providers, Guardians ad Litem (GALs), Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs), and others are invited to attend.
In-home reviews are conducted on a stratified random sample of the county’s in-home cases. IH reviews are conducted every six months for the 10 large counties, and annually for mid-size and small counties. Families and external parties do not attend these reviews.
The quality assurance reviews are incorporated into all of these placement reviews. ARD also conducts reviews of cases through stratified random samples of cases involving children in placement less than six months.
C-Stat is a performance management system that allows every CDHS program to better focus on and improve performance outcomes. By identifying areas of focus, CDHS can determine what is working and what needs improvement. By measuring the impact of day-to-day efforts, we make more informed, collaborative decisions to align efforts and resources to affect positive change.
Each Division within the Offices of Behavioral Health, Children, Youth, & Families and Economic Security is collecting data to be examined on a monthly basis in C-Stat meetings. Together, executive leadership along with the office staff analyze data to identify both positive trends, and opportunities for improvement. Divisions will determine strategies for improvement and implement these strategies, while executive leadership will help to reduce barriers to the divisions’ success.
C-Stat has moved CDHS to an outcomes-oriented and collaborative approach to affect change at every level. The goal of C-Stat is to collect timely data, increase transparency, conduct regular executive meetings to assess the effectiveness of the strategies, and identify new performance measures, all in support of continuous quality improvement.
The Division of Child Welfare is currently tracking Colorado’s performance on the following measures, some of which are CFSR outcome measures: