The next step in creating a family well-being system

October 1, 2021

Dear Partners,

Today began with a tremendous sense of optimism — a sense that we are at the start of a remarkable, transformative moment for Colorado. There is a great sense of excitement and accomplishment — we have all done so much to get here. 

With the passage of the Family First Prevention Services Act, the federal government reformed the child welfare system by changing the way states access federal child welfare funding. 

Colorado embraced Family First because the changes ushered in by the law aligned with changes already underway in our communities. Over the past decade, we have built a bold vision for a new child welfare system — a family well-being system — in Colorado. Our new system will positively and proactively support children and youth through strong and healthy family formation with a continuum of community-based, prevention-focused services.

Yesterday, we took an important step forward in actualizing this vision. Colorado submitted the state’s Five-Year Family First Prevention Plan to the federal Administration of Children and Families. 

In this celebratory moment, we want to express our deepest thanks to our creative, courageous and resourceful partners who contributed to this work. Colorado communities came together to help us create a bold vision for child welfare and beyond. Our bold vision requires many bold partners. 

Our shared vision centers on evidence-based secondary and tertiary child maltreatment prevention services, and we know this is just one component of a more comprehensive approach to preventing child maltreatment. Our vision requires broad system transformation efforts that cut across multiple offices within the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) and in partnership with other state agencies. As a state-supervised, county-administered human services system, our state’s 64 county departments of human services and Tribal partners have been critical in co-designing the future of child welfare.

As Colorado operationalizes Family First, we will learn together and grow together, all in service of a common goal: Keeping kids safe and families together. This moment, one we have worked toward since 2018, marks the beginning, not the end.

We look forward to your feedback, and we know we will need your partnership to continue moving this important work forward. 

Let’s get started, together-

Minna Castillo Cohen

Director, CDHS Office of Children, Youth and Families

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