Robert Werthwein Named Director of the Office of Behavioral Health

DENVER (September 7, 2017) — The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) has named Robert Werthwein the director of the Office of Behavioral Health. Dr. Nancy VanDeMark, the current director, is resigning effective September 28 to return to healthcare consulting.

Dr. Werthwein joined CDHS in February 2013 and has served as the director of the Office of Children, Youth and Families at CDHS since April 2015. In his new role, Dr. Werthwein will direct the operations and administrative oversight of the state’s behavioral health system, including mental health and substance use community programs and the operation of the Colorado Mental Health Institutes at Fort Logan and Pueblo.

“Dr. Werthwein is a dedicated public servant and consummate professional,” said Reggie Bicha, executive director of CDHS. “His deep experience in early childhood mental health combined with his strong leadership running 24/7 facilities for CDHS position him well for success in this new role. I also want to thank Dr. VanDeMark for her service to the Office of Behavioral Health and her unwavering commitment to providing the best care to clients within a strong and accountable system.
She has helped us immeasurably in creating a 21st century human services department.”

During Dr. Werthwein’s tenure at OCYF, the office has focused on addressing complex issues impacting all children and youth served by CDHS. Under his direction, CDHS has implemented significant reforms in child welfare, including the development of a new Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline System; new prevention strategies to assist families before they become part of the system; and training for mandatory reporters so at-risk children come to the attention of the child protection system sooner.
“Behavioral health is an integral part of Coloradans’ well-being, ” Werthwein said. “This has been evident both in serving Colorado’s children, youth and families, and in my prior experience working in mental health. I look forward to continued service of Coloradans and their behavioral health needs in this new capacity.”

Dr. Werthwein earned his doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Howard University. His training focused on the treatment of underserved populations and research of improved care delivery systems. Dr. Werthwein also completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the Harris Infant Mental Health Program at the University of Colorado. Prior to joining the Colorado Department of Human Services, Dr. Werthwein worked as a researcher and clinician at the Kempe Center and as the Director of Operations for the University of Colorado Depression Center. He begins his new duties September 29.

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