Colorado shares new efforts to better serve families affected by substance abuse with national partners

Korey Elger, the Ongoing Child Protection Administrator and Acting Placement Service Unit Manager, presented during the Statewide System Improvement Program (SSIP) annual meeting in Washington, D.C. SSIP is a national effort to help states infuse effective and collaborative local practices to create statewide change to increase effective service to all families in the child welfare system affected by parental substance use disorders. The conference is an opportunity for participating states to share ideas they’ve implemented and learn from one another.

Korey spoke about Colorado’s Dependency and Neglect System Reform (DANSR) initiative, which identified the following concerns through the planning phase of DANSR:

  • Colorado families struggle with a lack of appropriate treatment, access to treatment or quality treatment.
  • Most families with a child abuse case (also called a dependency and neglect case or D&N) do not have access to the best practices used in family drug courts.
  • There is a lack of professional understanding of FDC best practices as well as substance use disorders, co-occurring mental health disorders, and methods of related screening, assessment and treatment.

Korey shared how the Office of Children, Youth and Families and the Office of Behavioral Health are working with the State Court Administrator’s Office (SCAO) to create a permanent shift in treating families with substance use or co-occurring mental health disorders involved in the D&N system. This work has already begun with 11 pilot sites, which put into place the six DANSR principles:

  1. Provide universal screening for substance use disorders, mental health disorders and trauma.
  2. Shorten the timeframe between screening and assessment for substance use disorders, mental health disorders and trauma.
  3. Use multidisciplinary team staffing to enhance communication and collaboration and to integrate treatment information into the management of the case.
  4. Provide timely judicial support and oversight to make the court’s case management responsive to treatment needs and permanency.
  5. Enhance data collection and information sharing across the court, child welfare and treatment.
  6. State and local teams coordinate strategy at the systems level and participate in collaborative training.
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