Colorado’s federal partners have approved a five-year prevention services plan, creating opportunities to offer more proactive services to support parents in addressing their challenges and seeking help.

The Colorado Department of Human Services’ (CDHS) Family First Prevention Plan was approved Sept. 28 after a review by the Children’s Bureau, a federal agency organized under the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families. 

Colorado has created a bold vision for a 21st century child welfare system that positively and proactively supports children and youth through strong and healthy family formation with a continuum of community-based, prevention-focused services. Colorado’s Family First Prevention Plan is the springboard for developing a prevention framework to keep children, youth, and families from experiencing out of home placements, deeper involvement in the child welfare system, or reentry into the system. The plan can be amended as necessary to expand services, programs, and populations served, and provides a path for Colorado to get reimbursed with federal funding for services provided to families in a case with open child welfare or juvenile justice involvement. 

The plan includes descriptions for nine services that are trauma-informed, evidence-based, and subject to a well-designed and rigorous evaluation: Child First, Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), Healthy Families America (HFA), Fostering Healthy Futures-preteen (FHF-p), Multi-systemic Therapy (MST), Functional Family Therapy (FFT), Parent-Child Interactive Therapy (PCIT), SafeCare Colorado, and Parents As Teachers (PAT). Funds expended on these nine services are now eligible for partial federal reimbursement, and federal funds claimed on these services will support capacity building in underserved regions of Colorado. While all of these services are not available in every Colorado community, CDHS is working with providers, partner agencies, and the Colorado Child Abuse Prevention Trust Fund Board to build capacity and infrastructure to expand services to more regions.

Over the next 12-18 months, CDHS will continue to build upon the collaborative work done over the last few years in preparation for Colorado’s prevention plan approval. CDHS will continue to develop processes, infrastructure, and capacity to expand Family First programming for families and identify additional funding opportunities. 

While Colorado’s federal Prevention Plan represents just one component of the larger vision to connect kids and families with upstream services and supports, it is an important step toward actualizing this vision and introducing and developing valuable programs for families into the state. CDHS expresses enormous gratitude to the many counties, community partners, families, and state agencies for their partnership and collaboration on this first-of-its-kind plan.