Placement Services

Removing a child or youth from their home can be traumatic for the entire family, so caseworkers avoid that whenever possible. When a child or teen is not able to continue safely living with their parent or caregiver, Family First provides federal funding for the following types of out-of-home care:

  • Kinship family
  • Foster family
  • A qualified residential treatment program for children or teens who need treatment
  • Congregate care for young people who are pregnant or parenting
  • Independent living settings for young adults age 18-21
  • Congregate care for survivors of child sex trafficking 
  • Family-based residential treatment facilities for substance use disorder
Photo of a man, woman a child and a baby in a park

Kinship and Foster Families

If it is not possible to ensure the safety and well-being of a child or youth in their own home, a caseworker looks to family or friends willing to provide a temporary home while the parent or caregiver works to improve the situation at home. These families are known as “kinship families.” Any safe adult with an established and trusted relationship with a child or young person – grandmas, uncles, teachers, neighbors or even a friend’s parent – can be a kinship parent.

When no kin is available, foster families provide a safe, temporary home for children or teens to grow up in while their parent addresses safety concerns.

Qualified Residential Treatment Program

Children and youth who can’t grow up safely at home should grow up in the least restrictive setting. Sometimes, these kids need more than a kinship or foster family. They need services and treatment at a facility for a limited time to achieve stability before transitioning to a family-like setting or return home.

Family First creates a new facility license type called a qualified residential treatment program (QRTP). A QRTP must:

  • Be designed to be treatment-focused and temporary
  • Engage the family in treatment planning and intervention
  • Provide access to 24-hour nursing in accordance with the treatment model
  • Provide six months of services for the child or teen and their family after they have transitioned out of the program
  • Be accredited by a national accrediting entity

Placement in a QRTP must be necessary, temporary and treatment-focused. Any child or youth staying in a QRTP longer than 12 months (or six months if younger than age 13) requires review and approval by the Colorado Department of Human Services and a judge. 

Woman holding her sleeping child.

Specialized care settings

In addition to care in a qualified residential treatment program, Family First allows for the use of federal funding for the following individualized care settings:

  • A specialized setting providing prenatal or parenting supports for young people
  • A supervised independent living setting for young adults age 18-21
  • A setting that provides high-quality residential care and support services to survivors of child sex trafficking or those at risk of becoming sex trafficking victims
  • Family-based residential treatment facilities for substance use disorder

Independent Assessment Process

Family First requires the use of an Independent Assessment to determine the level of care a young person may need.

Once a county or the Division of Youth Services (DYS) determines a child or youth may benefit from treatment at a QRTP, the county will make a referral for an Independent Assessment. The Colorado Department of Human Services has contracted with the regional Administrative Services Organizations (ASOs) to implement the Independent Assessor process in Colorado.

FAQs About Placement Services