Project Abstract

Colorado’s 5-Year Family First Prevention Services Plan was approved in October 2022. At this time, programs rated as “promising” or “supported” by the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse (the Clearinghouse) require ongoing rigorous evaluation to build evidence towards a “well-supported” designation. In addition, practices that have no current level of designation (i.e., not yet rated), as well as practices that have been reviewed, but received a rating of “does not currently meet criteria,” require rigorous evaluation building from the ground up. The Colorado Lab serves as the coordinator of Family First rigorous evaluation efforts on behalf of the State of Colorado, specifically, the Colorado Department of Human Services. In this role, the Colorado Lab provides ongoing strategic guidance to meet the evidence-based aspects of Family First requirements and ensure strategic investments in evidence-building for services/programs positioned to meet the needs of Colorado’s children, youth, and families.

The Colorado Lab currently coordinates and oversees evidence-building for four evaluations and will coordinate and oversee additional evaluations as new ones are prioritized as part of Colorado’s prevention strategy. Click on the titles below to learn more.

MST is designated as a “well-supported” practice by the Clearinghouse. Telehealth/hybrid delivery of MST is considered an adaptation by the Clearinghouse and thus requires separate evidence-building to have the adaptation rated by the Clearinghouse. The evaluation of the telehealth/hybrid delivery of MST is led by Dr. Suzanne Kerns through the Rocky Mountain MST Network located at the Kempe Center. This evaluation is associated with a Transition Fund Act-resourced contract for implementation of this innovative model.
  • Evaluation Team: Dr. Suzanne Kerns, Kempe Center
  • Evaluation Timeframe: March 1, 2022 to February 28, 2024
  • Step to Building Evidence: Steps 1, 2, and 3
  • Key Deliverables: (1) Initial Report June 30, 2023 on implementation; (2) Final Report March 31, 2024 on reach, implementation, and outcomes such as: arrests/re-arrests during treatment, out-of-home placements, if the youth is in school or working; and (3) Brief Report March 3, 2024 on how to approach building evidence for a hybrid/telehealth adaptation of a service already rated by the Clearinghouse.
  • Lab contact: Dr. Elysia Clemens, PhD, LPC
    Child First is designated as a “supported” practice by the Clearinghouse. Colorado is participating in a multi-state randomized controlled trial conducted by MDRC with the goal of building evidence toward a “well-supported” designation. The study will assess the impact of Child First on child safety (involvement with child welfare system), child well-being (behavioral and emotional functioning), and adult well-being (mental or emotional health, substance use or misuse, economic and housing stability).
    • Evaluation Team: Meghan McCormick, MDRC
    • Evaluation Timeframe: April 1, 2022 to June 30, 2026
    • Step to Building Evidence: Step 5
    • Key Deliverables: Annual reports will be submitted by MDRC on January 31 of each year detailing study progress. Outcomes report for 15-month follow-up data is due January 31, 2025. Outcomes report for the 36-month follow-up data is due January 31, 2027
    • Lab contact: Dr. Elysia Clemens, PhD, LPC
    Child First One-Pager Project Summary

    TF-CBT is designated as a “promising” practice by the Clearinghouse. The Center for Policy Research (CPR) is designing and executing a rigorous evaluation of school-based TF-CBT in Colorado, with the goal of building evidence toward a “well-supported” designation. The quasi-experimental design capitalizes on the robust school-based mental health landscape to (a) build evidence for TF-CBT as a high-potential service for inclusion in Colorado’s Family First strategy and (b) contribute to field-building around school-based mental health service delivery as a leverage point for Colorado’s prevention continuum. The study will assess the impact of TF-CBT on child well-being (behavioral and emotional functioning, social functioning).

    • Evaluation Team: Lanae Davis, MPS and Anne Byrne, MS, CPR
    • Evaluation Timeframe: Planning Period January 1, 2022 to October 30, 2022; Execution Period November 1, 2022 to June 30, 2024
    • Step to Building Evidence: Step 4
    • Key Deliverables: (1) Planning Period: Evaluation Plan approved by October 30, 2022; (2) Quarterly reports will be submitted by CPR detailing study progress and summarizing preliminary results. (3) Outcomes report for 6-month follow-up data is due March 30, 2024.
    • Lab Contact: Dr. Courtney Everson, PhD

    TF-CBT One-Pager Project Summary

    FHF-P is designated as a “supported” practice by the Clearinghouse. Two different 5-year randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of FHF-P have been conducted with demonstrated favorable impacts on child permanency, delinquency, and well-being. Dr. Heather Taussig serves as the Principal Investigator for the rigorous evaluation, which is being conducted as a follow-up to the previous two trials. The follow-up RCT analysis will evaluate the program’s potential impact on child well-being, specifically suicidality (behavioral and emotional functioning) and substance use.
    • Evaluation Team: Dr. Heather N. Taussig, University of Denver; Dr. Sarah J. Racz, University of Maryland
    • Evaluation Timeframe: September 2022 to June 2023
    • Step to Building Evidence: Step 4
    • Key Deliverables: (1) Brief progress memo by January 30, 2023 on activities conducted in fall 2022; and (2) Findings report on suicidality by March 30, 2023.
    • Lab Contact: Dr. Courtney Everson, PhD


    Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Children, Youth and Families

    Research Partners: 

    Center for Policy Research 

    The Kempe Center



    SFY24 Family First: Annual Evidence-Building Strategy Report

    SFY23 Family First: Rigorous Evaluation Annual Report

    SFY23 Family First: Annual Evidence-Building Strategy Report 

    Stay up to Date with the Colorado Lab Through Our Monthly Newsletter
    Subscribe Here


    Follow Us!

    Copyright © 2022 Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab | All Rights Reserved
    The University of Denver is an equal opportunity affirmative action institution.