Boulder County Joins Innovative Child Welfare Effort

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Differential Response now underway in six Colorado counties

Boulder County, Colo. – Boulder County has joined five other Colorado counties in implementing a visionary and innovative approach to child welfare that promotes wrapping families in support to help strengthen and stabilize them. The approach, known as Differential Response (DR), is a best practice in child protection across the U.S., and is boosting the preservation of families and the safety and well-being of children.

“We are very excited to become part of the Differential Response initiative in Colorado,” said Kit Thompson, Director of the Family and Children Services Division of the Boulder County Department of Housing and Human Services. “Many of the central practices of DR have been a core part of our child welfare philosophy for several years, and we are eager to join the other counties and the state in sharing our experiences and gaining from theirs.” 

The biggest change that Differential Response brings to child welfare practice is the use of two different responses to reports of child abuse or neglect: A more traditional investigative response in high-risk cases and, now, also the Family Assessment Response (FAR). FAR involves giving families a choice of collaborating with caseworkers to make sure the family has the supports they need to avoid a situation in which an investigation would be necessary. In either response, caseworkers keep close track of any risks to children, and also consider each family’s strengths and past history of keeping children safe.

“The passion and dedication to Differential Response that Boulder County has clearly demonstrated has inspired many other counties around the state to carry on their work toward full implementation,” said Colorado Department of Human Services Director Reggie Bicha.  “We are confident and excited to approve Boulder County to fully implement Differential Response and be designated a Differential Response County.”

Among other things, the designation as a Differential Response county in Colorado means the state will provide additional resources including training, funding, and data sharing, toward Boulder County’s DR implementation. It also means Boulder County can now use core Child Welfare Allocation funding to increase its focus on getting wrap-around support services to families earlier to help them stabilize. 

“This represents a significant step forward in child welfare,” said Boulder County Commissioner Cindy Domenico. “Every family needs help now and then, and Differential Response will boost our ability to be there when our families need crucial support.”

Gabi Boerkircher
Public Information Specialist

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