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Project Description

Colorado Through a partnership between DDHS, Arapahoe House, Addiction Research Treatment Services and Treatment Accountability for Safer Communities, Denver EFFECT constructed a family-centered system of care to improve the safety, well-being and permanency of children living within the City and County of Denver who are at risk of or in out-of-home placement as a result of a parent’s or other primary caregiver’s substance abuse. Denver EFFECT embodies a fundamental philosophical shift in treating the entire family, rather than just the individual involved in substance abuse treatment or with an open case in child welfare. The program’s main components centered on family therapy and enhanced clinical case management through substance abuse treatment providers and required that at least one supportive family member participated to some degree in treatment with the identified client.

Target Population

Denver EFFECT targeted:

  • One or more substance dependent caregiver in need of treatment, with priority given to families in which methamphetamine is the primary substance of abuse Children who are currently in or at risk of out-of-home placement;
  • Families experiencing a complexity of co-occurring problems (e.g., mental health, domestic violence, children with mental health, development, substance abuse or other problems).

Major Project Goals

  • Providing comprehensive family-centered services that recognize individual needs and build on family strengths and protective factors to achieve safety, permanency and well-being for children who are at risk of or in out-of-home placement as a result of substance abuse, with a special focus on methamphetamine;
  • Integrating the child welfare, substance abuse treatment and court systems into a cohesive infrastructure to strengthen and coordinate family-centered services for families in which children are at risk of or in out-of-home placement as a result of substance abuse.

Key Major Program Services

Case Management and In-Home Services

  • Intensive/Coordinated Case Management
  • Family Group Decision Making/Family Case Conferencing
  • Wraparound/Intensive In-Home Services

Mental Health and Trauma

  • Mental Health Services & Psychiatric Care
  • Trauma-Informed Services
  • Trauma-Specific Services – Seeking Safety

Engagement/Involvement of Fathers

  • Targeted Outreach to Fathers
  • Specialized Program or Services for Fathers

Screening and Assessment – Child Welfare and Other Children’s Issues

  • Prenatal Exposure
  • Specialized Child Screening and Assessment – Socio/Emotional, Behavioral, Substance Use, Developmental

Housing Services

  • Housing Assistance

Children’s Services

  • Early Intervention Services
  • Trauma Services
  • Developmental Services
  • Therapeutic Services

Partner Agencies and Organizations

The Denver EFFECT Project includes the following partners:

Child Welfare

  • Regional/County Child Welfare Agency

Substance Abuse

  • Bilingual Substance Abuse Treatment Provider(s)


  • Family Drug Court
  • Juvenile Justice Agency

Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement, Legal and Related Organizations

  • State Department of Corrections (including State probation and prisons)
  • County Corrections (including county/local probation and jails)
  • Local Law Enforcement
  • Attorney(s) General
  • Legal Services/Client Advocacy

Other Community and Child and Family Services

  • Home Visiting Agency or Services Provider
  • Church or Faith-based Organization
  • Domestic Violence Services Provider/Agency
  • Peer/Parent Mentor Group or Network
  • Foundation


  • State/County Housing Agency
  • Housing/Homeless Services Provider

Mental Health and Health Services

  • Regional/County Mental Health Agency
  • Mental Health Services Provider
  • County Maternal and Child Health
  • County Public Health Agency – Other Public Health
  • Adult Health Services Provider/Hospital
  • Children’s Health Services Provider/Hospital


  • County/Regional School District
  • Individual School(s)
  • Early Childhood Services/Education Provider
  • Parenting Education/Services Provider


  • State/County Employment Agency
  • State/County Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or Welfare Office

Other Evaluation and Training

  • Evaluator (University-affiliated or other)

Performance Indicators


Timely Access to Substance Abuse Treatment: On average, Denver EFFECT clients entered substance abuse treatment within 25 days after they entered the RPG program, compared to 69 days for comparison group adults.

Retention in Substance Abuse Treatment: Denver EFFECT clients remained in substance abuse treatment for an average of 200 days, compared to 102 days for comparison group adults.

Reduction in Substance Use: The percentage of clients reporting alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamine, or cocaine use in the past 30 days significantly decreased from substance abuse treatment to discharge. There was also a significant decrease in the number of days clients used alcohol and marijuana. While there was a decrease in the number of days clients used methamphetamine and cocaine, these findings were not statistically significant.

Adult Well-Being

Mental Health Functioning: Denver EFFECT clients showed significant decreases in client-reported trouble due to family, psychological and emotional problems, as well as a decreased desire for treatment for these problems from baseline and discharge. Clients also reported a significant decrease in the number of days they experienced depression or anxiety as well as a decrease in their overall experience of psychological or emotional problems.

Sustainability Status

The Denver EFFECT program was sustained close to its existing model. Onsite childcare at one of the treatment provider sites was the only component dropped.

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Project Details

  • Lead Agency:
    Denver Department of Human Services (DDHS)
  • Geographic Area and Congressional District Served:
    City of Denver; Congressional District 1
  • Federal Grant:
    $1 million/3 years (2007-2010)
  • Evaluation Design and Comparison Group Type:
    Quasi-experimental, Historical, Matched Population-Level
  • Proposed Number Served (3 years):
    Children: 245
    Adults: 344
    Families: 109
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