In 2012, Governor Hickenlooper announced a new child welfare plan – “Keeping Kids Safe and Families Healthy” – that detailed a common practice approach for Colorado’s 64 counties and two tribal nations designed to strengthen the state’s child welfare system. In 2013, the second phase of the plan built upon five core strategies by revamping the front end of Colorado’s child protection system through enhanced screening of calls reporting possible child abuse or neglect; 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.
Keeping Kids Safe and Families Healthy identified five (5) core strategies.
- Common practice approach,
- Performance management,
- Work force development,
- Funding alignment; and
- Transparency and public engagement.
A Common Practice Approach
- Ensure that every child in Colorado is safe and healthy, as that is paramount to everything we do every day.
- Implement one practice approach and philosophy for the entire state to ensure the collaboration of best practices in caring for kids.
- Expand the Differential Response model – which allows workers to use more than one method of response to reports of child abuse and neglect, and allows them to better engage family and community members – to additional counties throughout the state.
- Develop new pathways for adolescents with behavioral health needs.
- Create a new statewide hotline providing one number to report child abuse or neglect across Colorado, and a corresponding public awareness and prevention campaign.
- Increase prevention services for referrals that do not meet the criteria to open an investigation, but for which the family is in need of additional supports to ensure they remain stable and do not become part of the child protection system. These prevention programs include:
- Colorado Community Response offers comprehensive voluntary family-focused services which include family engagement, case management, direct services, resource referral, home visits, collaborative goal-setting, financial decision-making assistance and coaching, and group-based parent education.
- SafeCare is a nationally recognized, evidence-based, in-home parent education program that provides direct skills training to caregivers in the areas of parenting, home safety, and child health. The parenting model was developed in 1979, and home visitors have been trained in at least 17 states and several countries. In Colorado, SafeCare is being implemented as a voluntary service for families in an effort to prevent entry or re-entry to the child welfare system. and
- Enhanced Nurse Family Partnership collaboration introduces first time parents to maternal and child health to ensure access to assistance programs. The program also promotes awareness of child abuse and neglect by providing targeted training and collaboration between NFP nurses and county child welfare staff.
- Provide additional funding for counties that have previously overspent in their core services allocations.The increased funding allows counties to provide more resources to keep kids safely in their own homes. An additional $6.1 million in funding for Core Services was distributed to 64 counties to provide additional services to keep children safely in their own homes.
- Standardize use of RED (Review, Evaluate, Direct) Teams across the state to ensure consistent screening practice and that each and that each referral is properly assessed and assigned.
Work Force Development
- Use the County Scorecard at the local level to drive practice improvement for children and families.
- Implement a performance management strategy – C-Stat – that collects and analyzes a variety of real-time data to ensure best practices are identified and shared across the state, thereby ensuring high quality, outcomes-based services for children and families.
Transparency and Public Engagement
- A well trained work force is essential to ensuring the safety of children and families.
- Take the Child Welfare Training Academy to the next level with an updated, current curriculum that utilizes technology to deliver new research and development statewide.
- Expand the Child Welfare Training Academy to continue to develop our work force, including senior work staff, supervisors, leaders and foster parents.
- New training for mandatory reporters.
- New competencies and training for child abuse screening.
- Mobile technology to help caseworkers be more efficient and ease workload.
- Utilize available resources more efficiently to ensure that we are delivering the right services to the right people in the most cost effective manner possible, as no new funding is foreseeable in the immediate future.
- Align funding sources with outcomes for the safety, well-being and permanency of children and families in Colorado.
- Implementation of the federal Title IV-E Waiver to include funding to develop services that will keep children safely in their own homes.
- We believe the public has the right to know how we are doing our jobs. In addition, we need to communicate outcomes so everyone will know how we are keeping children and families safe and healthy. This includes placing C-Stat information and outcomes online for the public to view.
- Begin work to draft legislation that would allow CDHS to publicly share information – good and bad – regarding child welfare investigations.
- Establish a new governance council on child welfare to oversee and recommend policy and practice efforts across our system. The council will include county commissioners, foster parents, providers, advocates and families served by the child welfare system. It will be chaired by Executive Director Reggie Bicha.
- Development of a public web site displaying statewide and county-specific data.
- Further refinement of the child fatality reporting statute to allow for the release of the child’s name, date of birth and date of death.
In addition, CDHS, counties and legislative leadership plan to work collaboratively with the State Auditor to review the state’s workload/caseload for county caseworkers.