Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 24, 20183min480

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.


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At the end of the month Minna Castillo Cohen will take over as director of the Office of Children, Youth and Families, taking over the position vacated by Robert Werthwein, when he became director of the state Office of Behavioral Health in September.

Both agencies are part of the Department of Human Services.

Costillo Cohen will direct programs and facilities that “improve the safety, independence and well-being of Colorado’s children, youth and families,” DHS said. Besides the divisions of Child Welfare and Youth Services, she well oversee the state’s Domestic Violence Program and Juvenile Parole Board.

Castillo Cohen is the vice president of community impact for the Mile High United Way, where she has worked on issues and services involving young people, families and individuals.

“In recent years, the Colorado Department of Human Services has had many opportunities to work with Minna and we’ve always been impressed by her dedication and passion to improving the lives of Colorado’s children,” DHS executive director Reggie Bicha said in a statement Tuesday. “Her intense commitment to public service and her collaborative, dynamic nature will make her an excellent leader of the Office of Children, Youth and Families.”

Castillo Cohen has 20 years of experience with nonprofits dealing with issues similar to those she’ll take on with the state.

“I’m excited to join an incredible leadership team working to ensure positive, sustainable outcomes for our community,” she said in a statement. “It is an honor to serve Colorado’s children, youth and families.”