Your Voices: Results from a statewide survey to help improve child welfare in Colorado
March 13, 2019
During fall 2018, the Colorado Department of Human Services asked young people, parents and caregivers; and foster, adoptive and kinship parents to provide input on their experiences with child welfare. The survey is just one way in which the Department has asked for the public’s feedback to guide implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act and the Division of Child Welfare’s five-year strategic plan, known as the Child and Family Services Plan.
The fall survey highlighted three constituent concerns:
- The need for ongoing constituent engagement was confirmed with 74% wanting to continue giving input, including 12% who want to give additional input to this survey.
- There were no significant differences between metro and non-metro counties responses, except access to support group services which had the largest utilization difference (8.7%).
- Raising up youth voice. Young adults from project Foster Power identified issues within this topic:
- Sibling connection
- Supportive & nurturing foster homes that encourage listening and long-term supportive relationships
- Childhood opportunities like driver’s licenses, sleepover and after-school activities.
In reviewing the survey results, several themes emerged:
- Communication and respect. Responses around better communication and more respect were most prevalent in the survey with youth and foster parents or kinship providers listing it as the top priority. This included notions of feeling heard and being respected as a valuable member of the team and to be upfront and honest in all communications. Additionally, 70% of youth reported being in foster care did not feel supported by their caseworker.
- Lack of information about the system. Over 50% of parents or family identified lack of information about the system as a major barrier and it was the third most prominent response from foster parent or kinship caregivers. Overall system issues included ease of navigation, timeliness and over burdensome requirements.
- Financial support. Increasing financial support with childcare assistance (including at trainings and meetings), transportation help for visits, food, energy, clothing, activities and housing was named second most often for both family and parents and for foster parents/kinship providers.
- Therapy for youth and family. Strengthening behavior supports and therapy for the youth and overall family and ensuring more timely access to therapy was identified 22% of the time by from foster parent or kinship caregivers and parent or family members.