DENVER (Sept. 6, 2016) — The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) has received a $3 million award from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to expand system of care services, named the COACT Colorado program.
Since 2012, COACT Colorado has provided services and supports for children with serious behavioral health challenges and their families in 12 metro and rural communities across the state. The program uses wraparound facilitators and family advocates, who develop a family plan that provides individualized comprehensive services and resources to support youth and families.
The grant will be administered for four years at $3 million a year, and allows CDHS to expand its services in three important ways. First, four new communities in Denver, Mesa, Teller and Huerfano counties will be added. Second, the grant will focus on services appropriate for youth with a co-occurring intellectual or developmental disability and a mental health issue; it also will help youth transition to adulthood. Third, the grant will expand services with technology.
“We’re excited to expand the COACT Colorado approach to more communities and to continue our work to make sure children and families get what they need to fulfill their family vision,” said Claudia Zundel, Director of Child, Adolescent and Family Services at CDHS’s Office of Behavioral Health (OBH).
COACT Colorado partners with county and state agencies to provide an entire system of services for a child and family. Family advocates, for example, are parents who’ve had a child involved in the mental healthcare system; they play a vital role in supporting COACT Colorado families.
“We are eager to build on the past project’s successes,” said CDHS Office of Behavioral Health Director Nancy VanDeMark. “We hope to expand the improvement in mental health and family functioning we have seen in COACT communities.”
Preliminary results show nearly 70 percent of youth engaged in COACT Colorado services have improved in at least one measurement, such as an increase in school functioning or a decrease in crisis care. A hallmark of the program is its two generation (2Gen) and traumainformed care approaches. The 2Gen model involves at least two generations parents and youth in an individual’s care plan. Traumainformed care recognizes the role trauma plays in a person’s life and works a care plan around not retraumatizing that individual.
“We believe that use of trauma informed and family focused approaches that engage peers and family advocates is the key to building healthy families and communities,” said VanDeMark.