Family First in Colorado

All children and youth should grow up in a safe, stable and secure family that supports their long-term well-being. Research shows that growing up in a family is essential for all kids, especially those who have experienced abuse or neglect.

The Family First Prevention Services Act (Family First) is a federal law that allows local child welfare agencies to use federal funding to pay for services that keep kids safe, growing up in their families.

Family First provides Colorado the opportunity to ....

  • Reshape child welfare and provide more proactive services, so more children and youth can grow up with their family.
  • Partner with community-based service providers to respond to the individual needs of children, youth and families.
  • Provide treatment in a setting that is designed to provide a higher level of care.

Track Colorado's progress on the Family First Dashboard.

Family First Office Hours


Children and youth should grow up with a family. Most children and youth who receive help through child welfare services are not removed from their homes. Last year, nearly 70 percent of Colorado children and their families involved in an open child welfare case received services in their own homes. For the first time, Family First allows Colorado to use federal funding to serve these children and their families with treatment programs that are short-term, customized therapeutic support. Quality prevention services and strong federal, state and community collaborations are the foundation for Family First policies. Prevention services must be trauma-informed, evidence-based, approved, and subject to a well-designed and rigorous evaluation. Learn more about prevention services.


If a child or youth is unable to safely live with their parents or caregivers, they should grow up in the least restrictive setting. Caseworkers look for kinship families - relatives or other trusted, safe adults - who the child or youth knows. When no kin is available, foster families step in to provide care and safety. 

Sometimes, short-term treatment in congregate care can help provide the services and stability a child or youth needs before they transition to a family-like setting, where they are better able to address their past traumatic experiences. Learn more about how Family First will impact placement services.

 There is a lot of information available about Family First. We are committed to providing accurate and relevant information to help everyone understand and successfully implement Family First. We think these resources will help.

The implementation of Family First in Colorado creates change for all of us. More parents will be able to receive services while continuing to live with their children. Caseworkers and counties will have more tools to support the families they serve. Providers and government agencies will also review and adapt their daily operations and processes so children, youth and their families get the supports they need to stay together.

We think these changes are exciting, and we know change brings many questions. Review our FAQ page to get answers to common questions we receive.   

If not you, then who?
Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline
Available 24 hours a day, every day. Don't hesitate to call and get help. 
Anyone witnessing a child in a life-threatening situation should call 911 immediately.