Family Advocacy for Mental Health

Colorado has a long history of efforts supporting families of children and youth with serious mental health challenges.  A key aspect of these efforts has been to make family advocates available to families of children and youth with serious mental health challenges. This has included:

  • Two comprehensive system of care of care projects, Cornerstone and BLOOM, supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  Both initiatives provided family advocates/family support partners to participating families.
  • Participation in the 2009 National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health Policy Academy – “Transforming Children’s Mental Health through Family-Driven Strategies.”
  • Development of an online Family Advocacy Toolkit  by the Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health-Colorado Chapter in collaboration with stakeholders.
  • The Collaborative Management Program (HB 04-1451), which includes family advocates and other family engagement efforts in many of the participating communities.
  • COACT Colorado , a current System of Care Implementation initiative supported by SAMHSA.  Each participating community has at least one trained family advocate.  


Colorado is unique among all states in having legislation that recognizes the importance of providing support to families of youth with mental health challenges who are in, or at-risk of becoming involved with the juvenile justice.  First, HB 07-1057 authorized the development and evaluation  of three family advocacy demonstration programs focused on this population.  These initiatives focused on three different settings - schools in Montrose County, the juvenile assessment center in Jefferson County, and a youth detention facility in Denver.  
Second, HB 11-1193 kept the family advocacy framework and definitions intact and requires CDHS to develop rules and standards, 2 CCR 502-1, 21.200.4 , and provide technical assistance to aid in the development of family advocacy programs.  The rules and standards cover areas such as policies, training, supervision, and data collection.