Eligibility and How to Access Services

Child Welfare Services

The child welfare system is a group of services designed to promote the well-being of children by ensuring safety, achieving permanency, and strengthening families to successfully care for their children. While the primary responsibility for child welfare services rests with the counties and States, the Federal Government plays a major role in supporting States in the delivery of services through funding of programs and legislative initiatives.

PDF RESOURCE: How the Child Welfare System Works

A copy of Building Systems of Care, A Primer for Child Welfare by Sheila Pires can be found at the link below.

PDF RESOURCE: A Primer for Child Welfare


Response to Intervention (RTI)

Response to Intervention is a framework that promotes a well-integrated system connecting general, compensatory, gifted, and special education in providing high quality, standards-based instruction and intervention that is matched to students’ academic, social-emotional, and behavioral needs. More information can be found at the Colorado Department of Education.

A video on how RTI meets the needs of all Colorado youth can also be found at the Colorado Department of Education.


Truancy may be one of the earliest indicators of students needing help and if not addressed effectively, can result in a student eventually dropping out of school. It is often a symptom or outcome of various conditions and circumstances that eventually lead to a student not attending school. To better understand truancy-related issues, increase school attendance, and otherwise prevent or reduce truancy, the following resources may be helpful:

MORE INFO: National Center for School Engagement, Denver, CO 

MORE INFO: “Expelled and At-Risk Student Services” state grants program administered by the Colorado Department of Education

MORE INFO: State of Colorado Truancy Data

Individualized Education Plans

Each public school child who receives special education and related services must have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Each IEP must be designed for one student and must be a truly individualized document. The IEP creates an opportunity for teachers, parents, school administrators, related services personnel, and students (when appropriate) to work together to improve educational results for children with disabilities.  A sample IEP is located on pages 17-21.

PDF RESOURCE: Instructions on the IEP form for Colorado

PDF RESOURCE: A Guide to the Individualized Education Program

MORE INFO: Virtual Toolbox for Mental Health in Schools

MORE INFO: Special Education Dispute Resolution and the procedural safeguards that all parents of student with disabilities are required to receive

Juvenile Justice

A juvenile is a person under the age of 18. “Delinquency” is an act that would be a crime, an offense or a violation, if the act had been committed by an adult. When a juvenile commits one of these acts, it is called ”delinquency.

A comprehensive glossary of terms on the juvenile justice system and juvenile law can be found at the Weselyan College faculty site.

According to Colorado policy, only juveniles who are adjudicated for a delinquent act and are court ordered to the Colorado Department Of Human Services in accordance with state law (C.R.S. 19-2-921) shall reside in a Division of Youth Corrections’ institutional facility.

There are six hearing types:

  1. Detention Hearing: Usually occurs within 48 hours of arrest to determine if there is probable cause for the arrest, and if the juvenile is a safety hazard to self and others, and if so, a bond is set.
  2. Advisement Hearing: The first appearance before the court after the filing of a delinquency petition, where the juvenile and parents, guardian or other legal custodian are advised of their constitutional and legal rights.
  3. Adjudicatory Hearing: The hearing determines if a youth is a delinquent.
  4. Preliminary Hearing: A hearing to determine if there is probable cause to believe the juvenile committed the delinquent act.
  5. Pretrial Hearings: Hearings to determine any pretrial motions or issues.
  6. Dispositional Hearing: Hearing to determine the outcome of a specific case (also known as sentencing).

MORE INFO: Colorado Department of Human Services, Youth Corrections

PDF RESOURCE: Juvenile Justice System: A Family Guide, Jefferson Center for Mental Health

PDF RESOURCE: Colorado Department Of Human Services, Division Of Youth Corrections, Admissions Criteria

Sentencing Options for Youth Include:

Informal Adjustment: A sentence type for low-level offenses and juveniles with mental health concerns that centers around therapeutic interventions instead of typical sanctions incurred by the juvenile justice system.

Community Service: Non-paid work the juvenile performs in the community.

Work Crew: Supervised community work performed by juveniles.

Detention Facility: Detention Facilities are where youth are confined or supervised after arrest or while awaiting the completion of judicial proceedings. Detention youth are served in secure state-operated or staff-secure (privately-operated) facilities. State-operated facilities are administered by the Division of Youth Corrections (DYC)  in DYC owned, secure facilities. Staff-secure facilities are administered by contract service providers in DYC owned or privately owned facilities.  A listing of the facilities can be found at Colorado Department of Human Services.

Diversion: Juveniles who are first time offenders may be referred to a  Diversion Program for treatment intervention services following a guilty plea. Upon successful completion, the juvenile will not have an adjudication.

Deferred adjudication: A type of sentence that typically lasts for 6-12 months and requires the youth to report to a probation officer. After successful completion of this sentence, the juvenile’s case will be dismissed.

Probation: Community-based supervision that provides certain terms and conditions the juvenile must follow in order to remain in the community. Each juvenile is assigned a probation officer who monitors the juvenile’s conduct and compliance with the court orders.

JISP (Juvenile Intensive Supervision Probation): A more rigid and structured form of probation usually requiring daily phone calls, weekly drug testing, and random home visits by the youth’s probation officer.

Out of Home Placement: A juvenile can be placed out of the home by order of the court. Placement evaluation is completed by the County CYF (Department of Children, Youth & Families) to recommend to the court the extent of services needed to help the juvenile.

Commitment to DYC: For serious, violent and/or repeat offenses, the juvenile is committed to the custody of the Colorado Department of Human Services, Division of Youth Corrections (DYC), to assist in the training and rehabilitation of youth.

MORE INFO: Michie’s Legal Resources

PDF RESOURCE: Juvenile Justice System: A Family Guide, Jefferson Center for Mental Health



Medicaid is a medical assistance program for low income people. Youth in the juvenile justice system are eligible for Medicaid if they meet all of the eligibility criteria. The Health Care Financing Administration (HFCA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have repeatedly emphasized that the ” inmate payment exception”  does not affect an individual’s eligibility for Medicaid; it only affects whether federal financial participation (FFP) is available. This means that states must provide Medicaid coverage for eligible youth immediately when they are no longer considered “inmates.” This may include youth who are living in a detention center but waiting to move to another placement, such as a group home.

PDF RESOURCE: Medicaid for Youth In the Juvenile Justice System

A copy of the on-line Medicaid application can be found on the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing website.

Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) 

Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) is a low-cost health insurance program for uninsured Colorado children ages 18 and under whose families earn or own too much to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private insurance. CHP+ encourages preventive and early primary care by removing the financial barriers to health care. CHP+ works to improve the health status of Colorado children by improving access.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Systems

Colorado’s Public mental health system currently includes seventeen (17) community mental health centers (CMHCs), five (5) Behavioral Health Organizations (BHOs) and seven (7) specialty clinics. The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing  contracts with BHOs to provide medically necessary mental health services to Medicaid recipients. The Division of Behavioral Health (formally the Division of Mental Health and the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division), contracts with community mental health centers to provide mental health services to non-Medicaid recipients, subject to available appropriations.

The Division of Behavioral Health also has established seven Sub-State Planning Areas (SSPAs) to manage distribution of substance abuse treatment and prevention services in the State of Colorado. Managed Service Organizations (MSOs) are assigned to each SSPA. MSOs are responsible for oversight, quality assurance, and contract compliance of funded substance abuse treatment providers.  The four MSO’s contract with 42 treatment providers that include approximately 200 individual sites.  These sites are licensed to provide all levels of care from detox to residential care with the emphasis on serving an identified priority population.

Individuals wishing to access substance abuse treatment services, who need a state-assisted sliding fee scale, must receive services in the area in which they live. A map of the state SSPAs and information on each Managed Service Organization follows. Contact the MSO assigned to your area for further information.  Managed Service Organizations can arrange services for the following regions:

Substate Planning Areas
1, 2, and 4:

Signal Behavioral Health Network
455 Sherman St. Suite 455
Denver, CO 80203

Substate Planning Areas
5 & 6:

West Slope Casa
P.O. Box 3410
Glenwood Springs CO  81602-3410
tel 970-945-8661
fax 970-947-9265

Substate Planning Area 3:
Aspen Pointe Health Network
2864 S. Circle Dr. Ste. 1000
Colorado Springs, CO 80906

Substate Planning Area 7:
Boulder County Public Health
3450 Broadway Boulder, CO 80304


In addition to the 200 funded treatment sites, the Division is also responsible for oversight of approximately 525 additional treatment sites that provide services across the state. Of the 725 sites, approximately 350 are licensed to treat Minors.  This means that programs have to comply with additional regulatory requirements under the Substance Use Treatment Disorder Rules. Services provided by all of these sites may include specialized treatment services such as Gender-Specific Woman’s treatment, services to Child Welfare clients, Medication Assisted Treatment for Opiate dependence, Minors, Offender Education, Treatment and Recovery Support Services, DUI Offender services and Treatment of Persons Involuntarily Committed to treatment.