About Family First

The Family First Prevention Services Act (Family First), passed in 2018,  is the most significant change to child welfare policy in decades. Colorado has embraced Family First because the changes ushered in by the law aligned with changes already underway in our communities. 

Family First is grounded in research that shows that growing up in a family is the best possible environment for all youth, especially those who have experienced abuse or neglect. For the first time, federal funding can be accessed for prevention services that help kids thrive. 

In Colorado, Family First provides the opportunity to:

  • Reshape child welfare and provide more proactive services, so more children and youth can grow up with their families.
  • Partner with community-based service providers to respond to the individual needs of children, youth, and families.
  • Provide treatment in a setting designed to provide a higher level of care.

Family First is one piece of a broader Colorado vision to evolve the child welfare system to serve children, youth, and families together. 

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Colorado has made tremendous strides over the past decade to support child and family well-being and to keep families safely together.

In 2022, Colorado saw the lowest number of out-of-home placements in its history,

down from 4,730 in December 2012

down from 1,163 in December 2012

These statistics reflect the countless hours of hard work on the part of county departments of human/social services to keep kids safely at home, and to ensure that — when out-of-home placement is necessary — children and youth are placed at the lowest level of care that can successfully support any treatment needs. 

Implementation Principles

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Implementation will occur alongside other system reforms and our ongoing work with children, youth and families.

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Successful implementation will require strong and sustained partnerships among multiple stakeholders.
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Implementation is a long-term, iterative process. There is no flip-the-switch moment when implementation is complete.
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Through implementation of Family First, Colorado strives to improve policy, practice and quality of services in order to support community, culture, diversity, equity and access for all Coloradans across the state.