Colorado eliminates financial burden for parents with children in foster care

Cost will no longer automatically be charged to families

DENVER (June 10, 2024) — Colorado families whose children are placed in foster care will no longer automatically be required to make child support payments — a practice that may delay reunification — thanks to a Colorado Department of Human Services rule change implemented in 2023 and recently turned into law by the passage of Colorado Senate Bill 24-202.

Previously, most parents who had a child placed in foster care were charged with a monthly obligation to the State to contribute to the costs of the child’s care. Those charges added burden to parents already struggling financially, according to officials from Child Support Services and Child Welfare, two separate divisions within the Colorado Department of Human Services. In addition, those charges could result in additional enforcement actions including negative credit reporting, driver-license suspension and even the seizing of bank accounts.

“Most families that come into contact with the child welfare system are already facing some form of financial hardship. By removing this charge, parents will have a less burdensome path to getting their children back with their families,” Child Support Services Director Larry Desbien said. 

Research has shown that pursuing families to recoup foster care costs can be detrimental in the effort to reunify and may lead to increased time children spend out of home. Additionally, pursuing parents to reimburse out-of-home placement costs is not successful as a cost-recovery mechanism. Multiple states have found that they are spending more money trying to collect these costs than the amount originally owed. 

As a result of the June 2023 rule change, approximately 2,350 cases have been closed and $8.7 million in past-due support previously owed to the State and/or counties has been forgiven. Senate Bill 24-202 turned this rule change into law.

The Division of Child Support Services and the Division of Child Welfare work with parents and caretakers to make sure all Colorado children and youth get the financial support they need to thrive. Child Support Services offers different types of services to meet the needs of families and is committed to providing a family-centered service delivery model that both promotes and addresses barriers to consistent child support payments.

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