Adoption Assistance Investigation

CPO Case 2016-2074

Colorado’s adoption assistance program has been in existence for more than 30 years. The program was designed to help children with significant physical and intellectual disorders, hereditary conditions, mental health needs and other circumstances get adopted. Without some form of assistance, many families are unable to adopted and care for these children. The program requires county human services departments to work with adoptive parents of eligible children to consider the child’s needs and determine an appropriate monthly subsidy or set of services.

A 16-month investigation by the CPO, however, found the program was being administered differently across Colorado, resulting in unequitable access to the program and children were being provided services and subsidies based on inconsistent and changing standards. As a result, children in different parts of the states had inequitable access to the programs services and benefits.

The CPO issued a total of 14 recommendations to the Colorado Department of Human Services and the Colorado General Assembly, including one recommendation to overhaul Colorado’s adoption assistance statute to ensure compliance with federal law and guidance. The CPO convened a stakeholder group to draft such legislation during 2018. That legislation passed unanimously during the 2019 session and has since been enacted.