DENVER (Dec. 3, 2015) ‐‐ The Colorado Department of Human Services saved $2.8 million in Fiscal Year 2015 from a reduction in out‐of‐home care, including congregate care, which was identified as major challenge and focus within the state’s Child Welfare Services Master Plan, Executive Director Reggie Bicha announced.
The Title IV‐E Waiver was fully implemented in July 2013 and allowed states flexibility in how they utilized child‐welfare funding. The purpose of the waiver was to improve child well‐being and permanency by unifying varied reform efforts in Colorado’s child welfare system.
Colorado’s substantial savings stemmed from reducing the use of facilities such as group homes or residential treatment centers. The state increased the number of children placed into family foster care, kinship care or by keeping them in a safe home environment.
In FY2015, the total number of congregate care bed days dropped by 65,304.
In order to implement such a plan, it was necessary to increase recruitment and retention of homes, including kinship homes, which were qualified to serve children who might otherwise be placed in congregate care. The effort also included activities to increase family engagement, in‐case planning and services.
CDHS and a number of Colorado counties worked with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, given that congregate care had become the default location for older youth in too many areas of the state. In addition, the Casey Family Foundation set up micro‐grants aimed at removing children from congregate care.
“All children deserve to grow up in families and not institutions,” Bicha said. “And, as our current data shows, we are making inroads in this area.”
The $2.8 million savings will be equally split between the state and county human‐services departments, dozens of whom started implementing Title IV‐E waiver changes with interventions that included more family engagement, kinship supports, permanency roundtables, trauma‐informed screenings, and trauma‐informed assessments.
The savings will be reinvested for more foster‐care support, child‐welfare services or more Title IV‐E interventions.
“The greatest impact can be seen when local agencies, including judicial and service providers, work together with county DHS to reduce congregate care,” Robert Werthwein, Director of the Office of Children, Youth and Families, said.
“Approaches statewide may vary in the implementation of the Title IV‐E Waiver, but the overall success of these interventions is reflected in the positive outcomes for those removed from group or residential homes.”