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Plans of Safe Care Pilot: Visit to San Luis Valley


Pictured above: Plans of Safe Care Pilot Team members (Illuminate Colorado, the Colorado Lab, and the Kempe Center) meet with partners from the San Luis Valley Area Health Education Center, the Rural Recovery Network, and Valley-Wide Health providers at Sierra Blanca Medical Center.)

Efforts are underway in the San Luis Valley (SLV) to develop a community-led Plans of Safe Care (POSC) infrastructure. The aim is to rapidly connect families with prenatal substance use to trusted resources that help to keep infants safely with their caregiver when possible. As described in our February newsletter, the SLV is piloting this effort to serve local families and build evidence on how to strengthen POSC implementation statewide. The pilot is resourced by the Colorado Department of Human Services, Division of Child Welfare.

Earlier this month, the POSC Pilot Team met with SLV community-based providers, health care teams, and child welfare directors. A “reverse open house” approach was used over the two-day site visit with pilot team members traveling across the region to meet with partners in the spaces where they serve families. 

“The SLV is a geographically vast area,” said Dr. Courtney Everson, Sr. Project Director for the Colorado Lab. “It is imperative to the pilot’s success that we don’t add burden to already busy providers and community leaders. Our goal is to build capacity and maximize their existing strengths in preventing and treating prenatal substance use.” 

During the site visit, local partners remarked how too often the SLV gets the “leftovers” of what the Front Range decides to test and build. This pilot promotes innovation in a rural area that will then be adapted and scaled. Designing for local context is essential for practices aimed at substance use. In rural areas, there is pervasive stigma on community and professional levels, and many factors that span generations to consider, such as chronic poverty.

Partners were excited to learn that the Colorado Lab’s approach to using data will incorporate learnings during implementation, not just when the pilot is completed. They also appreciated that evidence building will consider strengths, as well as deficits. 

With a focus on moving upstream and taking a collaborative approach to prevention, the pilot will help inform policy and practice around what is possible in prenatal substance use and how communities can work together to strengthen families. For more information about the POSC Pilot, please contact Dr. Courtney Everson.

Plans of Safe Care Pilot
San Luis Valley Partners Participating in the Site Visit

  • SLV Area Health Education Center
  • SLV Health and the Women’s Health Team
  • County Departments of Human Services, hosted by Alamosa County
  • Crossroads Treatment Center
  • SLV American Indian Center
  • Valley-Wide Health and Sierra Blanca Medical Center
  • Rural Recovery Network

"I’m excited to set an example for the state on what’s possible in Plans of Safe Care."

SLV Community Partner

"Highlighting the successes of the pilot and of families who do the hard work is really what will make the infrastructure built here in the Valley successful."

SLV Health Care Provider