Colorado Behavioral Health Task Force recruiting begins

A newly created task force, intended to shape the future of behavioral health services and access in Colorado, is seeking applicants dedicated to creating a system that emphasizes serving Coloradans in their own communities.

Colorado Department of Human Services Executive Director Michelle Barnes is creating the Behavioral Health Task Force at the request of Governor Jared Polis. The task force will accept applications for the next two weeks.

“We have been overwhelmed by the inquiries thus far from those who have a keen interest in addressing the complex issues involved in creating a cohesive and inclusive roadmap for a behavioral health system that will vastly improve services and access in Colorado,” Barnes said. “We look forward to the work ahead.”

The task force, which will have 25 members, will be complemented by at least three subcommittees focusing on the state’s behavioral health safety net system, children’s behavioral health, and a long-term plan to address increasing demand for competency evaluation and restoration services for people involved in the criminal justice system.

Each of the subcommittees will have up to 25 members. As directed by Governor Polis, the effort will embrace diverse groups and interests in an effort to ensure that all voices are heard. All meetings will be open to the public.

The “Behavioral Health Blueprint" for Colorado, which will be created by the group, will address ways of:

  • Working with the legislature and relevant agencies to evaluate current funding streams and to recommend financing, administrative changes and savings measures and changes to ensure the behavioral health system is transformed into an integrated, accessible, accountable, efficient and high-quality behavioral health care system;
  • Identifying systemic gaps and enhancements in access to behavioral health services, especially for vulnerable or underserved populations, including those experiencing intellectual and developmental disabilities; and
  • Evaluating, recommending, and adopting proven strategies to drive efficiency and desired results.

In particular, the competency subcommittee will be charged with creating a long-term plan to address competency and restoration that is consistent with a consent decree CDHS entered into last month to resolve a federal lawsuit against CDHS that was first filed in 2011. The lawsuit centered on wait times for court-ordered competency services.

CDHS will work with the plaintiff, and an array of others, to develop a comprehensive picture of the system of services and resources available for individuals in the criminal justice system who have been found incompetent to proceed, and to develop a framework of a statewide strategic blueprint for competency and the first set of recommendations that align with the department’s consent decree. 

Applicants have flexibility in what they apply for and are encouraged to pick and choose where they believe they could provide the most beneficial impact. Applicants do not have to apply for the Task Force in order to apply for any or all of the subcommittees.

Membership is not compensated and is anticipated to require consistent participation over the next year.  For more information about the Task Force, and to apply, please go to  Applications will be accepted through May 5.

April 19, 2019