4 questions for Yumiko Dougherty, Chief Strategist for Family First

November 9, 2020

In her roles as a Foster America Fellow for the Colorado Human Services Directors Association and Director of Strategic Planning and Implementation at the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS), Yumiko Dougherty (she/her/hers) has been involved with Family First implementation in Colorado almost from the beginning. Now, to formalize her work in this area, Yumiko is transitioning to a temporary role at Chief Strategist for Family First at CDHS.

Yumiko will work intentionally within and across CDHS offices and with external stakeholders to ensure we are prepared to meet all Family First requirements and to realize our collective vision to better serve children, youth and families. 

We asked Yumiko four questions to learn a little bit more about her work and her life.

How is this new role different from what you’ve been doing in the past?

Family First is a massive systems transformation effort and the work is far-reaching. Within CDHS, several offices are involved including the Office of Children, Youth and Families, the Office of Behavioral Health and the Office of Early Childhood. Other State agencies, such as Health Care Policy and Financing and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Enviornment, have important roles to play. And many other stakeholders - including county departments, judicial/legal partners, providers, constituents and researchers - have been at the table with us from Day 1 to co-create the future of child welfare. This position is really about connecting all the dots and ensuring that we are moving forward together in pursuit of a common vision. I look forward to taking a step back and looking at the big picture, knowing that we have so many dedicated and passionate subject matter experts working for better outcomes for children and families.    

What is one thing that Colorado must do in order to implement Family First?

Like any large-scale system transformation, Family First implementation will be a long-term, iterative process. In the early stages, we need to focus on building the implementation infrastructure needed, both at the state and local level, to successfully transition. This includes building capacity to deliver evidence-based prevention services, ensuring adequate treatment-focused placement options for youth who need it, and adapting our systems such as training and information technology.  

What about this work inspires you?

In Colorado, we are not just figuring out how to comply with a federal law. We are creating something bold and innovative that will transform the ways we support our most vulnerable children, youth and families. 

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did it have anything to do with your job now?

A ballerina. Maybe it will help me maintain grace under pressure??

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