Joey BunchJoey BunchOctober 23, 20173min705

The new director of Colorado Office of Behavioral Health has another new title: Friend of Children.

Robert Werthwein received the award from Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA.

Werthwein was recognized for his work with the Colorado Department of Human Service’s Office of Children, Youth and Families from March 2015 to September 2017, before DHS promoted him last month.

For 24 years, CASA has given the Friend of Children Award “to those who personify the values of humanitarian outreach and volunteerism with children, families and the community,” DHS said.

The award typically goes to judges, law enforcement, doctors, legislators or individuals who work to make life better for kids.

“At CDHS, we’re charged with ensuring every child in our care knows that they can rely on us, that we’re going to work to equip them with the tools they need to succeed and when the burden is too much, we’ll be there to help lighten the load,” Werthwein said in a statement. “Our kids are our future, and we’re going to keep showing up for them every day to help put more Colorado youth on a path to success.”

Since earning his doctorate in clinical psychology, Werthwein has worked to strengthen child-welfare programs and improve treatment for at-risk children. At the Office of Children, Youth and Families, Werthwein focused on juvenile justice, child welfare, human trafficking and other complex issues.

DHS referenced his work on House Bill 1207, the legislation sponsored by Rep. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, and Sen. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, that removes incarceration as an option for children younger than 12.

The rule already applied to children 10 and younger. The bill signed into law by the governor in May.

“Dr. Werthwein worked tirelessly to advocate for 10-12 year olds in the juvenile justice system, keeping those youths with low-level offenses from mandatory detention facilities,” DHS said.

Joey BunchJoey BunchApril 12, 20177min249
A bill introduced in the Colorado House this week would not only change the name of the state Division of Youth Corrections but also how it restrains young offenders. Rep. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, introduced House Bill 1329 to rename the juvenile justice agency the Division of Youth Services. The bill states its purpose is […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchMarch 7, 20173min528
Children not yet teenagers don’t belong behind bars, unless they’re a violent felon or mess with guns. That’s what House Bill 1207 does. The legislation is up for its first hearing before the House Judiciary Committee this afternoon. The bill would take locked-away detention off the table for non-violent offenders who are 10, 11 or 12. Children younger […]

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Mike McKibbinMike McKibbinFebruary 28, 20174min381

Denver District Attorney Beth McCann has announced the creation of a separate juvenile prosecutions unit within the district attorney’s office. Effective Wednesday, March 1, the Juvenile and Drug Courts Unit will be reorganized to establish a separate juvenile unit, led by its own chief deputy and specially selected deputies. The drug court unit will continue to operate separately within the office to screen, file and prosecute cases that involve drug activity. That unit works closely with Denver Drug Court.