Select a project to learn more:

Reentry Systems Mapping Project

The Department of Corrections has a mission to help people on parole make positive changes and become law-abiding citizens. To this end, the agency targets high-risk/high-need people with intensive programs – such as housing and employment training – both prior to and upon release to the community.

Following implementation of reforms passed by the Colorado General Assembly in 2014, the Colorado Department of Corrections, in partnership with the Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab and Mathematica Policy Research, has conducted a study to examine current implementation of state-level reentry services.

Among the key findings:

  • Colorado’s expansion of reentry services initiated new connections between prison, parole, and the community that build the foundation for  more integrated system.
  • Targeting reentry services to the people who need them most is challenging but key to having efficient and effective services.
  • Modernizing and connecting data systems that evolved from different contexts for different purposes is a strategic priority for improving service delivery.

Agencies: 

Colorado Department of Corrections

Research Partners: 

Mathematica Policy Research

Foster Care Youth and School Mobility

This study examined the relationship between school mobility for Colorado students in foster care and educational attainment outcomes, specifically earning high school diploma, a high school equivalency diploma (e.g., through examination such as a GED), or exiting the K-12 system without a credential. After examining the study’s findings, the Colorado legislature passed the Educational Stability for Foster Youth Act, which provided $2.9 million for foster care youth to remain in their school of origin after being relocated from their prior home placement.

The Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab published research on the experiences of youth in foster care. The first report summarizes the results to date of the Colorado Study of Students in Foster Care; the second examines a recent drop in the graduation rate for foster youth and opportunities to improve this graduation rate in the future.

Agencies: 

Colorado Department of Education

Colorado Department of Human Services

Research Partners: 

University of Northern Colorado

Mile High United Way

2Gen Child Support Transformation Project

Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) is changing the culture of child support from an enforcement model to a customer service model.  The focus is now on the whole family. Caseworkers are using motivational interviewing techniques to identify barriers to custodial and non-custodial parents and connect parents to a network of partners who can help. Co-parenting programs and mediation are among the services provided. Eleven counties are test-driving this new approach, and the Lab is conducting a randomized control trial and process evaluation to learn what works.

2Gen Procedures

Packaged, replicable models of the 2Gen approach for child support services did not exist when the State of Colorado began the process of transforming the work of child support services. So, CDHS partnered with the evaluation team to develop an innovative model and initiated a pilot study known as the 2Gen Child Support Services Transformation Project (the “2Gen Project”). The long-term goal of the 2Gen Project examines the extent to which this cutting-edge model meets the goals of improving important outcomes associated with multi-generational poverty for children and the entire family.

2Gen Implementation Fidelity Report

The implementation findings and lessons learned during the first eight months of implementing the 2Gen Project in 11 Colorado counties are summarized in this report. Overall, the 11 counties participating in the 2Gen Project show substantial progress in transforming Child Support Services (CSS) to the 2Gen approach despite facing obstacles to making this transition. All 11 counties are meeting fidelity in the following indicators: leadership, commitment, culture; data sharing/use; program design; partnerships; and caseworker staffing. The 2Gen service delivery model is undeniably resource intensive, requires extensive collaboration and partnerships, and mandates dedicated, consistent leadership. This report documents significant progress towards fidelity to the 2Gen model but also highlights opportunities for growth. These lessons learned can inform future rollouts of the 2Gen model in Colorado and the nation as the impetus to provide more comprehensive 2Gen child support services grows.

Please note that this report will be expanded later in 2019 to include the program effectiveness results of the impact study. 

Agencies: 

Colorado Department of Human Services, Child Support Division

Research Partners:

Center for Policy Research

Student Re-Engagement

The Colorado Department of Education recently received state funding to implement a Student Re-Engagement Grant Program (SRGP). The goal of this project is to inform the administration of the SRGP by looking back at data from a previously administered grant program, called Colorado Graduation Pathways (CGP). The CGP program was a federally funded grant with similar objectives to the SRGP (e.g., decreasing the dropout rate; increasing the high school graduation rate).

Student-level data from one year of this program were used in combination with state administrative data to describe the relationships between targeted interventions and educational outcomes for served students, such as staying in school and graduating from high school. This was not a causal study – that might suggest that outcomes were a result of specific interventions. Instead, the descriptive exploratory nature of the analyses is best used to generate ideas and guide conversations about strategic grant-making. The findings from the study suggest considering:

  • Engaging grantees in conversations about equity and access.
  • Expanding investments to create continuity through school transitions for all grade levels.
  • Targeting interventions and supports to students who change schools during 12th grade so that they are more likely to graduate.
  • Sustaining or increasing investments in Check & Connect to help keep students in school.
  • Accelerating investments in Title I and highly mobile students.
  • Requiring grantees to report program data at the student level.

Agencies: 

Colorado Department of Education

Research Partners: 

University of Denver, Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab

Postsecondary Participation of Youth Formerly in Foster Care

Youth who experience foster care and earn a high school credential have already beaten the odds, but some of these young people may still experience unique barriers to postsecondary participation. In Colorado, only 34% of foster youth earn a high school credential with their class. When given more time, approximately half of former foster youth earn a high school credential by age 21. Only one in four of these youth enter postsecondary education immediately after graduating from high school. The purpose of this mixed methods study is to describe how experiences during middle school, high school, and the transition to adulthood influence the participation of former foster youth in postsecondary education.

Thirty former foster youth will be invited to describe their journey during high school and beyond and the experiences that shaped their postsecondary participation. Ten years of administrative records from Colorado Department of Education, Colorado Department of Human Services, and Colorado Department of Higher Education will be used to describe the relationships between academic achievement, school moves, and child welfare placement changes during middle school and high school and the likelihood of entering postsecondary education within three years of earning a high school credential, as well as the amount of time it takes these students to enter postsecondary education. Information on programs of study and institutions attended will also be generated. The goal of this research is to inform policy solutions for youth currently or formerly in foster care who aspire to pursue postsecondary education.

Agencies: 

Colorado Department of Education

Colorado Department of Higher Education

Colorado Department of Human Services, Child Welfare

Research Partners: 

University of Northern Colorado

Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative Community Partner Program Grants

The Colorado Department of Higher Education is tasked with distributing funds under the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI) to high schools and postsecondary institutions– or their community partners– to increase the availability and accessibility of pre-collegiate and post-secondary student support services. The long-term goal of the COSI program is to increase postsecondary completion rates. The Colorado Lab is helping the program to better target its funds toward measurable goals.

Agencies: 

Colorado Department of Higher Education

The Outcomes and Return on Investment of Concurrent Enrollment in Colorado

This project assesses evidence of promise for concurrent enrollment as a strategy for improving college attainment for all students in Colorado, with special attention to whether this strategy improves outcomes for students from low-income and minority families.

The goals of this projects are to:

  • build the capacity of the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) for evaluating policies aiming to increase college attainment;
  • conduct a preliminary assessment of the student outcomes, costs, and economic benefits of concurrent enrollment in the state of Colorado; and
  • develop a robust, state-level research agenda for improving college outcomes.

The study follows five cohorts of 11th grade students who attended a Colorado secondary school, starting in the 2009-10 school year through the 2015-16 school year.

Agencies: 

Colorado Department of Higher Education

Research Partners: 

University of Colorado Boulder

Augenblick, Palaich, and Associates Consulting

National Center for Higher Education Management Systems

Social Determinants of Health in Colorado: Spatial Analysis of Housing Affordability, Health Issues, and Health Care Accessibility

A burgeoning area of cross-systems research focuses on the social determinants of health (SDoH): “the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life.” Despite a known relationship between housing and physical/mental health and the importance of health care accessibility, the geographic context of this link is less explored. Using statewide data at the census-tract level, this study will employ Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to investigate the spatial relationships between asthma prevalence, lead exposure, and mental health (defined as suicide mortality, alcohol consumption, and substance overdose) as compared to availability of affordable housing and medical/mental health care accessibility. These relationships will be assessed using spatial analytic techniques, including multivariate analysis. This study will result in a series of maps that can assist the state and other governmental partners to more effectively implement affordable housing and health care accessibility strategies that better address disparities in SDoH.

Agencies: 

Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Division of Housing

Research Partners: 

University of Northern Colorado

Analyzing Colorado Juvenile Risk Assessment (CJRA) Data to Inform Prevention and Early Intervention

Juvenile justice system-involved youth are a subset of the general youth population. As such, strategic and data-informed planning for community-based prevention and intervention services can be strengthened by better understanding the profiles of risks and assets particular to this population group in a given  community. This project will examine the feasibility of creating local, aggregate risk/need profiles of the juvenile justice population in order to strategically inform local prevention and early intervention service planning with a more direct and intentional focus on delinquency prevention, diversion, and recidivism reduction. Specifically, this project will be to aggregate the data at the school-district level in order to connect risk/needs profiles across domains. These data profiles can be utilized by county/local prevention and intervention practitioners and planners to paint a more precise picture of how some youth matriculate into the juvenile justice system and the common characteristics (preventable precursors of delinquency) of that population. The results of this study will be utilized by local Communities That Care (CTC) prevention coalitions and Collaborative Management Programs throughout the state to inform local prevention and early intervention service planning with a more direct and intentional focus on delinquency prevention, diversion, and recidivism reduction.

Agencies: 

Colorado Department of Public Safety, Divisions of Criminal Justice and Probation Services

Colorado Department of Human Services, Child Welfare

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Prevention Services

Research Partners: 

Colorado State University

Learning from the State of Colorado’s Recent Performance and Efficiency Initiatives

During his two terms as Colorado’s governor, John Hickenlooper, the Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting, and the Performance Management & Operations Team worked together to improve the performance of state government in Colorado, following Governor Hickenlooper’s charge to make government service “efficient, effective and elegant”. As a new governor moves into the capitol building, it is valuable to catalog and revisit these efforts to inform ongoing and future work focused on making state government work better. Drawing on publicly-available Colorado state employee surveys and interviews with key performance leaders and stakeholders across state agencies, we aim to: 1) better understand and publicize the various efforts made from 2010 to 2018 to improve the performance and quality of Colorado state government, 2) consider how the various efforts to measure, manage, and improve performance evolved and fit together, 3) highlight aspects of the state’s existing work that promote sustainability, continuity, and success of performance improvement initiatives, and 4) identify behavioral and structural factors that support continuous, customer-driven, data-based decisionmaking.

Agencies: 

Lieutenant Governor’s Office (initiated under Hickenlooper administration)

Research Partners: 

University of Colorado Denver

Working Together: The Impact of a Multidisciplinary Response Team on Caregiver Engagement and Child Outcomes following Child Abuse and Neglect

Following child abuse or neglect reports to law enforcement, children and their families can become involved in investigations that span multiple government systems including child welfare, criminal justice, and health agencies. In the face of this complex investigative process, caregivers may become confused, intimidated, or alienated, which can decrease engagement and negatively affect child outcomes. Meeting with a multidisciplinary team (MDT) following the report may help mitigate these challenges for caregivers. MDTs are comprised of representatives from child welfare, law enforcement, and health agencies who work to ensure that caregivers understand the investigation process and can participate fully in efforts to meet their children’s needs to prevent out-of-home placements.

Little research is available on the efficacy of MDTs as a strategy to increase caregiver engagement, reduce out-of-home placements, and improve child and family outcomes. This project will examine variation in program referral to the MDT using administrative data and propose a strategy for leveraging that variation to design a causal evaluation of MDT efficacy. Surveys of caregiver engagement along with the results of a causal evaluation of MDT will be positive to inform programmatic decisions in the county as well as state-level policy decisions around MDT approaches across the state.

Agencies: 

Colorado Department of Human Services, Child Welfare; an urban police department in Colorado

Research Partners: 

University of Denver