On June 30, 1980, the United States Congress provided federal support to permanency planning as it enacted PL 96-272, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980. Passage of this milestone legislation in permanency planning provided incentives to states to require periodic case reviews for children in foster care. The Act mandated a review process for all states receiving federal funds for foster care services and required that permanent plans be developed for all children in foster care.
In the late 1980's Colorado was at risk of failing the federal 427 (now referred to as 422) Review. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) required that Colorado establish an Administrative Review system. The courts were not meeting the 422 requirements in the court hearings. It was at this time that Colorado started to design a review process to comply with the 1980 federal legislation under the Social Security Act.
In 1991, the Administrative Review process (Foster Care Review) was established as a comprehensive statewide system for assessing all Colorado children placed out of their homes. An administrative review is defined (CRS 19-1-103) as "a review conducted by the State Department of Human Services that is open to the parents of the child and conducted by an administrative reviewer who is not responsible for the case management, or the delivery of services to, either the child or the parents who are the subject of the review." In addition, at that time, the Foster Care Review (FCR) Unit was also charged with assuring that all children who were placed out of their homes, met the Colorado Out of Home Placement Criteria. To meet this requirement, the FCR conducted initial reviews of all children entering out of home care at 60 to 90 days, in addition to the regular 6 month reviews required by the Social Security Act.
In December of 1993 the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) was implemented. One of the major requirements of AFCARS is to report the timely Administrative Review on all children that fall into the care and responsibility of the single state agency. It was also at this time that the initial 60-90 day reviews were discontinued due to growth in the out-of-home population to be reviewed and the lack of additional resources to keep pace with the growth in population served.
In 1994, in addition to the implementation of the Multiethnic Placement Act, the Department of Social Services and the Department of Institutions Division of Youth Corrections (DYC) worked together in the implementation of the Federal Foster Care Payments and Adoption Assistance Program established pursuant to Title IV-E of the Social Security Act. The Region VIII Federal Office determined that an administrative review of the placement of all youth, including the juvenile justice population, would be required every 6 months. Foster Care Review was charged with the responsibility of designing and assisting in the Foster Care Review system for those youth in community placement through DYC.
In 1996, the Child Welfare Monitoring Unit and the Foster Care Review Unit were joined to form the Child Welfare Technical Assistance and Oversight Unit (CWTAO) to eliminate duplication and maximize the state and county resources. Both units were conducting on-site case file audits, data collection, reporting and analysis of individual cases by county and by worker. Data was being collected to identify strengths, service delivery and systemic problems, and compliance data on the federally mandated requirements for all children under the care and responsibility of the State. Many of the Child Welfare Settlement Agreement (CWSA) requirements mirrored the federal 422 requirements. In addition to the case specific reviews, the state instituted County Operations reviews. There was an increased level of accountability through corrective action plans for areas not in compliance.
Also in 1996, a Shared Services Agreement between the Division of Youth Corrections and Foster Care Review under the Child Welfare Technical Assistance and Oversight Unit was implemented. The CWTAO worked cooperatively with the DYC as they developed and implemented a review process. This independent process proved to be costly and difficult to manage as one staff person was being utilized to review cases throughout the entire state.
As of July 1, 1997, the responsibility for providing the timely reviews for the Division of Youth Corrections was given to the CWTAO. In addition, the DYC allocated one FTE to the CWTAO under the Shared Services Agreement to conduct these reviews. All DYC youth placed in out-of-home community care were now being reviewed for the requirements of Federal 422 and Title IV-E by geographically located staff.
On November 19, 1997, the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) was signed into Federal law. The Adoption and Safe Families Act added new requirements governing the review of a State's conformity with its State plan under Titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act. Public Law 105-89 seeks to provide states with incentives to achieve the original goals of Public Law 96-272: safety, permanency, and child and family well-being. Included in the new law was the requirement for the state to develop a comprehensive Quality Assurance (QA) system. Many of the requirements for a QA system were already being met by the CWTAO while monitoring for the terms and conditions of the Child Welfare Settlement Agreement. Therefore, rather than developing a separate Quality Assurance Program, the CWTAO developed a QA Program based on the CWSA reviews and included Client Satisfaction Surveys.
In 1997 and 1998 Managed Care was instituted in Colorado. This change encouraged counties and groups of counties to develop individual programs and processes to meet the desired outcomes of safety, permanency, and well-being. The state was moving away from strict compliance with rules and regulations to allowing increased flexibility. This created the opportunity for CWTAO to re-examine its role of monitoring process rather than outcomes. The CWTAO partnered with a few of the larger counties to develop a process that combined the Utilization Review Process and the requirements of the Administrative Review Process into one forum.
Also in 1998, CWTAO partnered with Mercer Incorporated to combine the processes for Client Satisfaction Surveys. The CWTAO also received the "Peak Performance in State Government Citizen Satisfaction Award."
In 1999 the CWTAO changed its name to the Administrative Review Division (ARD). This coincided with the CDHS reorganization under Marva Livingston Hammons at which time she developed the Office of Public Affairs Policy Analysis and Quality Assurance. ARD was moved from the Child Welfare Division into this new office. It was believed that this new Office assignment provided enough separation for the ARD to substitute for the 12 month permanency hearings as an impartial body appointed or approved by the court. Also, in 1999, ARD changed their review instruments to reflect the Federal Instrument to be used in the State's Child and Family Services Review (CFSR). ARD received the "Peak Performance in State Government Public Service Award" and the CDHS "Employees of the Year Award for Team/Teamwork."
In 2000, the lawyer's committee in charge of overseeing the CWSA compliance was willing to allow Colorado to change from the CWSA requirements to meet the ASFA requirements that were more comprehensive.
On January 8, 2001 in response to the ARD Steering Committee's request, the out-of-home QA review was combined with the Administrative Review function. County Departments preferred that an out-of-home case be pulled for review only once in a six month time period.
On October 12, 2001 the state of Colorado was released from the terms and conditions of the CWSA. One caveat to the resolution document was # 5 stating, "Whereas the Department assures its continuing full commitment to formal tracking, program monitoring, providing technical assistance, imposing corrective actions and continuous quality assurance and improvement necessary to achieve safety and permanency for children."
Colorado's Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) occured in June 2002. Due to the implementation of Trails, the SACWIS system, the ARD discontinued the Quality Assurance Reviews and Client Satisfaction Surveys. One of the primary factors was that ARD was unable to pull a sample of cases, or clients, from the Trails database.
Colorado received the CFSR report on September 11, 2002. The Quality Assurance System was found to be in substantial conformity. The Case Review System was found to be "not in substantial conformity" primarily because of the State's inability to enforce change and the substitution by ARD of court processes in DYC. The U.S. DHHS determined that ARD was under the same supervisory structure as Child Welfare and therefore, could not conduct Permanency Hearings. While the Department, seeking the ability to have ARD substitute for these reviews, submitted a waiver request to the DHHS, this waiver was rejected. Also in 2002, the ARD received a report from the State Auditors group noting that we needed to reinstitute the Quality Assurance Reviews.
In 2003 ARD did reistitute the Quality Assurance Reviews across the state.
Also in 2003, Colorado entered into a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) to address areas that the DHHS determined were "not in substantial conformity" through the Federal Child and Family Services Review. The ARD incorporated many of the areas addressed in the PIP into their review instruments to measure required documentation of compliance with the Federal Outcomes and Indicators.
In FY 2003/2004, the ARD budget was cut by over 35%. Ten FTE were lost and the functions of the Division were redesigned in an attempt to meet the federal and state requirements. The out-of-home caseload affecting the Administrative Reviews had grown over 38% from 1992 to 2002, and the Child Welfare caseload affecting the Quality Assurance Reviews had grown over 24% from 1995 to 2002.