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Building Evidence for Alternative Response in Adult Protective Services

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Project Summary

Senate Bill 21-118 created an Alternative Response (AR) pilot within Adult Protective Services (APS). The pilot establishes a dual-track model for responding to reports of mistreatment or self-neglect of an at-risk adult. In this model, pilot counties can tailor their response to the level of risk and implement practices to improve collaboration and drive well-being for clients. The pilot is a leading innovation nationally in APS. The Colorado Department of Human Services partnered with the Colorado Lab to rigorously build evidence for AR.

The independent evaluation will inform practice and policy development, scalability, and sustainability. The Colorado Lab’s analytic approach includes articulating program design, implementation monitoring with learning indicators to guide rapid improvement, and a quasi-experimental design to assess client- and system-level outcomes and determine efficacy of the AR approach for low-risk allegations. The pilot runs from January 2024 through December 2025 in fifteen rural and urban counties. A legislative report will be submitted by the Colorado Lab to the Colorado General Assembly in January 2025 and final results of the outcomes analysis will be available by July 2025.

Steps to Building Evidence

The evaluation is intended to move the AR pilot through the evidence-building process starting with program design (Step 1 and Step 2 on the Steps to Building Evidence) and then obtaining initial evidence about implementation through trend analysis of key indicators (Step 3). A quasi-experimental design is used to attain initial evidence of effectiveness (Step 4) on client- and system-level outcomes before and after the dual-track model was introduced in the fifteen pilot counties.


Evidence of effectiveness and lessons learned on implementation will contribute to the research evidence on best practices in Adult Protective Services in Colorado and nationally. Results of the evaluation will directly inform legislation on whether the state expands AR to all Colorado counties and what it will take in policy and practice to strengthen and sustain a dual-track model for at-risk adults experiencing mistreatment or self-neglect.

Get Involved

For more information about working with the Colorado Lab, see Government and Community Partnerships or Research Partnerships.