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Office of the Respondent Parents’ Counsel

Building evidence for representation models across the continuum of legal advocacy efforts to inform decision making

a father carries two toddlers in his arms while a young boy runs ahead as they travel through a field

Project Summary

The Colorado Office of Respondent Parents’ Counsel (ORPC) provides legal representation for indigent parents involved in child welfare proceedings. The ORPC partnered with the Colorado Lab to build evidence for representation models across the continuum of legal advocacy efforts and inform the High Quality Parenting Time (HQPT) Task Force. The information is used to guide smart state investments and protect the fundamental right to parent.

A primary evaluation focus is on the interdisciplinary representation model, which pairs an attorney with a social worker or a parent advocate who has lived experience. The Colorado Lab has conducted studies to determine the case and caregiver characteristics likely to benefit from an interdisciplinary model and examined the effectiveness of the model for family preservation, reunification outcomes, and re-entry outcomes.

The HQPT Task Force is required by statute (HB23-1027) to make recommendations for parenting time practices for families involved in child welfare. The Colorado Lab is developing data-informed recommendations on best practice standards for delivering family time in Colorado and building capacity, including necessary funding structures, to meet standards.

Steps to Building Evidence

Together, the ORPC and the Colorado Lab are moving the interdisciplinary team model of parent representation through the Steps to Building Evidence, using a phased study approach to explore model foundations (Phase I) and family- and systems-level outcomes (Phases II and III).


The ORPC is using information generated through the evidence-building process to:

  • guide strategic learning and continuous quality improvement; and
  • learn how investment in legal advocacy approaches can improve family reunification, promote parental dignity, and reduce long-term fiscal and societal costs of systems involvement.

This data driven approach will help more Colorado families to become reunified and remain stronger together.

Get Involved

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