Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 24, 20183min2880

The Colorado Department of Human Services is reminding those getting a tax refund this year to consider helping domestic abuse victims.

The Colorado Domestic Abuse Fund is one of the causes listed among the check-offs on tax returns. It helps fund 47 local domestic violence programs that answered 63,671 crisis calls and served 18,124 adults and 4,501 children in 2017.

“As adults, we want to protect children in our community and ensure their safety. That’s why it is so heartbreaking to know that problems like domestic and dating violence, which we tend to consider ‘grown-up issues,’ affect so many of our young people every day. Last year, of the thousands of Coloradans who sought help from the Colorado Domestic Abuse Fund, 31 percent were 24 years old and younger, and 21 percent were under the age of 17,” Reggie Bicha, DHS’s executive director, tells Colorado Politics.

“The Colorado Domestic Abuse Fund provides crucial services for those kids, teens and adults who need our help immediately, but emergency services are only one part of the equation. We know domestic violence can be an early indicator for larger, underlying issues. Through our awareness and prevention efforts, we can work to make Colorado a safer place for all our kids and families.”

The tax return check-off generated more than $167,000 from Coloradans who donated on their 2016 tax returns.

DHS offered some examples of the programs the donations support.

  • 24-hour crisis line
  • Emergency housing
  • Support groups, counseling and advocacy
  • Safety planning and information and referrals for victims and their families
  • Community education and prevention
  • Children’s programming and advocacy

DHS said 54 percent of its domestic violence service providers are in rural areas.

“Making a one-time contribution on your state income tax form is one of the simplest ways to make a difference in the life of a survivor of domestic violence,” Brooke Ely-Milen, DHS’s Domestic Violence Program, said in a statement. “Domestic violence survivors are the women, men and children who live just down the street. Providing help, hope and a pathway to safety through your generous contributions helps build stronger communities together.”

The Colorado Domestic Abuse Fund has been listed on state returns since 1983, when Colorado became the first state to allow taxpayers to chip in a share of their return to help the domestic violence programs.


Joey BunchJoey BunchJanuary 23, 20183min8800

Last year, Coloradans called the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline 211,554 times, the most since the line’s launch in January 2015.

More calls could be the product of DHS’s public awareness campaign to the hotline, 1-844-CO-4-KIDS, to help people spot and report child abuse, neglect or sex trafficking.

In 2016, DHS logged 206,107 calls.

‘“If you are worried about a child or teenager in your neighborhood, at your church or in school, don’t hesitate to call 1-844-CO-4-KIDS,” Minna Castillo-Cohen, director of DHS’s Office of Children, Youth and Families, said in a statement. “Even if you aren’t sure, making that phone call is one of the best ways you can help a kid in Colorado.”

For the first time last year, DHS tracked the number of potential cases of child sex trafficking reported to the hotline. The total was 307.

Coinciding with National Human Trafficking Awareness Month last year, DHS launched public awareness campaign — including online ads, billboards and information at bus stops and gas stations along interstates 70 and 1-25 — to help people spot the signs of child sex trafficking and report them.

“Child sex trafficking can sound far removed from our lives and communities, but we know survivors can be Colorado kids and teens from our own neighborhoods,” Sara Nadelman, DHS’s human trafficking specialist, stated.

“Children and teens of any gender, age, race or background can be at risk. Sometimes traffickers identify and groom a child, and in other situations the trafficker is an individual the child knows, such as a parent, caregiver or ‘friend’ they met online. Even if you are unsure, we need everyone who has a concern to call 1-844-CO-4-KIDS to report suspected child abuse. You can help put an end to trauma and ensure survivors receive the treatment and support they need.”

DHS said warning signs of sex trafficking include when a child:

  • Has money or other material items, such as a cell phone, they cannot explain.
  • Has tattoos or scars they are hesitant or unable to explain.
  • Has “stomach aches” or difficulty sitting or standing.
  • Posts sexually explicit material or images online.
  • Discusses having sex for shelter, transportation, drugs, alcohol, money or other things of value.
  • Is accompanied by an overly controlling “friend,” “partner” or “boss.”

“Other signs and factors that could increase risk include a history of abuse or neglect, identifying as LGBTQ, homelessness with no consistent caregiver and a lack of educational or socioeconomic opportunities,” DHS stated Monday.


Joey BunchJoey BunchJanuary 22, 20182min185
The Colorado Heart Gallery puts a face, or a few, on foster care adoption this month in Fort Collins, exhibiting photographs of kids hoping to be adopted. Last year in Colorado 874 such foster kids found permanent homes, the Department of Human Services said. As of a couple of weeks ago, 267 others were awaiting adoption, […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchJanuary 8, 20183min370
Dr. Patrick Fox, the chief medical officer for the Colorado Department of Human Services, is now a distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. Fox was honored for his “significant contributions to the psychiatric field and his dedication to improving public policy and advancing community mental and behavioral health efforts,” the state agency said. The […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchJanuary 6, 20183min527
The Colorado Department of Human Services wants some fresh eyes on the state’s behavioral health crisis system to find problems and solutions for services that touch the lives tens of thousands of Coloradans and their families. The 18-member panel will include local and state officials connected to the system, including four state legislators, that will […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchDecember 22, 20173min272
In a second piece of unflattering news released on the Friday afternoon before Christmas, the Colorado Department of Human Services said Friday it must invoke the same “special circumstances” it used six months ago for failing to meet the requirements of a 2012 court order. cited In June the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo said […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchDecember 22, 20172min3320

An employee at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo fell for a phishing scam on a state computer on Nov. 1, but an investigation has found no evidence the phishers caught any data, the state Department of Human Services said Friday afternoon.

Phishing is an internet scam that involves getting access to passwords or other entry into a computer or  network to steal money or data.

Though there was no sign that sensitive patient records were tapped, “some personal information could have been compromised,” said DHS, citing name, date of birth, Social Security number, address, phone number, insurance information, admission and discharge dates.

The patients have been directed to the three credit reporting companies for a free copy of their credit report to make sure no one uses their identity.

Though everything seems fine so far, DHS is required to disclose the breach by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, because it potentially could have exposed personal information of more than 500 patients. This case involved the records of potentially 650 patients, DHS said.

“CMHIP has taken steps to notify all individuals who may have been affected and is working with HIPAA Privacy and Security staff to create new technical safeguards, review and revise privacy policies and procedures, and institute additional training for all CMHIP staffers to further address this issue,” DHS said in a statement.


Joey BunchJoey BunchNovember 26, 20172min218
Colorado Shines, the Department of Human Services program that rates child care and preschool programs, has added 54 programs to its highest ranking. The Office of Early Childhood’s list has grown its list of rated programs to 848, showing parents and guardians which ones meet and exceed state licensing requirements. DHS ranks programs on levels […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchNovember 5, 20177min5840

The Colorado Department of Human Services highlighted five families for their dedication to foster kids at the Governor’s Mansion in Denver Saturday.

“Touching the life of a child in need is one of the most important and fulfilling things we can do,” DHS executive director Reggie Bicha said in a statement. “These families have done an incredible thing by opening their homes and hearts to some of Colorado’s most vulnerable citizens. Our kids are our future, and these five families are a great example of the role models we want helping to shape our future through compassion and care.”

The ceremony was part of the state’s recognition of National Adoption Month.

The families were featured in a series of videos shown at the luncheon to inspire adoptions for more than 100 attendees, DHS said.

DHS featured:

  • April and Earl Camp Sr. of Craig.
  • Amy and Jessica Kobylinski of Colorado Springs.
  • Anita and Jeff Nobles of Denver.
  • Himon Robles of Pueblo.
  • Amber and Maurice Taylor of Peyton.

DHS said there are 276 children and teensin foster care awaiting adoption in Colorado. The foster care system in the state took care of 877 kids who were adopted last year, and 652 have been adopted so far this year.

The state is trying to find more foster parents, especially those who can take care of children with special needs, siblings and older children. Colorado Politics reported last week that Colorado needs 1,200 more foster families in the next two years.

Watch the videos by clicking here. Here are bios of the foster families honored Saturday provideds by DHS:

Camp Family

For 18 years, April and Earl Camp Sr. have been foster parents in Craig. In that time, they have fostered countless children and adopted one child, their 9-year-old daughter, Lucy. April and Earl agree that adoption is a lifelong journey for everyone in their family. Lucy is thriving in their home, and their sons, Earl Jr. (22) and Joshua (37), are proud older brothers. For support on this journey, the Camps turn to the Moffat County Department of Social Services, doctors and specialists across the state, and their own families. April and Earl continue to foster children and teens, and they plan to adopt again if they foster a child who is unable to return to their biological parents and needs a home.

Kobylinski Family

Amy and Jessica Kobylinski had already started the process to become foster-to-adopt parents when they read about a Colorado Heart Gallery display at a library in Colorado Springs. This article prompted the couple to contact The Adoption Exchange, where they told an LGBTQ staff advocate about their desire to adopt a teenager. Almost immediately, the couple were interested in adopting Diamond, 17, but it wasn’t until several months later that they were able to meet Diamond in person. Immediately, the three felt like a family, and Diamond’s adoption was finalized in October 2017. Amy and Jessica are committed to giving Diamond acceptance and unconditional love, and they say Diamond gives them that in return.

Nobles Family

Anita and Jeff Nobles were married for 15 years before they grew their family by adopting siblings Imani, 3, and Tyson, 2. Parenting two toddlers is a challenge. Anita and Jeff say that getting through the day and putting the kids to bed at night is a little victory. For the Nobles, parenting is all about trial and error and thinking creatively in order to ensure their children feel safe and have stability. Anita created a visual schedule for the kids to help them recognize family members and adapt to a consistent routine. They have also relied on the support of their family, faith and community throughout the adoption process.

Robles Family

Himon Robles was a 32-year-old bachelor when his two nieces and nephew moved into his home. Going from an uncle to a parent was an adjustment for Himon and the kids, who were used to their uncle spoiling them and giving them everything they wanted. After caring for the kids for two years, Himon and the kids – Mikayla, 15, Anastaysha, 8, and Joseph, 5 – jumped at the opportunity for adoption. Even though they were already a family, adoption gave them all permanency and peace of mind.

Taylor Family

Maurice and Amber Taylor’s adult children had already left the house when the couple decided to adopt three of their foster children: Max, 9, Tatiana, 8, and Keri, 7. For Maurice, adoption runs in the family – his parents also adopted and he saw firsthand how having a family can change a young person’s life forever. Maurice and Amber continue to foster to provide a safe, loving home for children in Colorado’s foster care system. Maurice and Amber want to let other people know that you don’t have to be perfect to adopt. Kids don’t care about what you have; they just want to be love