In the System: Stories from Colorado’s Youth

One 17-year-old shares his experience in a Division of Youth Services' youth center.

Every day, a child, youth or family is impacted by the child protection system. That system is vast and can touch a life through any number of ways. But each interaction is different, and each interaction will leave a unique impact on the person involved.

The Office of Colorado’s Child Protection Ombudsman (CPO) hears directly from the children, youth and parents impacted by the child protection system. Understanding the system’s impact on Colorado citizens is a crucial element of the CPO’s work – both in handling individual concerns and complaints and addressing systemic issues. No two clients have shared identical impressions or experiences with the child protection system. Some express frustration and disappointment. Others share gratitude for the services they received. Many share confusion and fear.

These first-person accounts have helped shaped how the CPO addresses complaints and concerns, but the CPO believes these powerful stories also have the ability to help educate everyone about how children and families experience the child protection system. It is only through understanding people’s lived experience that we can provide them the best care and services.

As such, the CPO is sharing these experiences with a broad audience in an effort to educate all Colorado citizens about the child protection system. The individuals who are the subjects of these writings have provided the CPO with their consent to share their stories and the CPO will independently verify details of their stories using applicable records and documentation. The CPO works to bring a diverse set of voices, experiences and perspective to this project.

The CPO is grateful to all of the clients who chose to share their stories.