There may come a time when your child’s offense was so severe, or her problems with the law have been so chronic that she is taken out of the home. If a court action finds your child guilty of the crime he or she was charged with, she may be placed in the custody of the of the Department of Human Services by the court as a result of a hearing on charges that your child committed. This is called a Commitment. A Commitment is different that a Detention. Detention is when a child is held at a facility to await a court appearance. A commitment is a court action that legally gives the Department of Human services custody of your child for a specified length of time. While your child is in the custody of DHS, your parental rights, such as giving permission for medical care are still intact, but DHS will decide about his placement. To learn more about the different facilities, visit the Colorado Department of Youth Corrections Facilities page.
When your child is first committed, make sure that she receives a thorough assessment. This assessment should take into account factors such as the nature of the crime, past criminal history, and your child’s social, family, medical and mental health history. You should be included in the assessment process. It is critical that an appropriate assessment is done, because this is the information that will be used to make the decision about her placements. If a proper assessment is not done, your child may not receive appropriate services.
Your child should have a caseworker assigned to her case. Work to form a good relationship with the caseworker, because the caseworker may also be able to advocate on behalf of your child. This caseworker will be the child’s primary resource person at the Division of Youth Corrections (DYC). This is the first person you should contact about any issues or questions. The caseworker is responsible for preparing an accurate case history and treatment plan. The caseworker may also schedule home visits, staffing (staff meetings to discuss your child’s progress), or other appointments, conduct periodic case conferences and make appropriate referrals to residential and non-residential programs. The caseworker is expected to have periodic contact with you and the child. It is important to demonstrate that you are cooperative and are trying to be a positive influence on your child. If you need help, ask for it. Expect to be included in decisions. Make complaints as they are warranted.
Most programs operate on a behavior/reward point level system. Good behavior is rewarded in more privileges; poor behavior will result in decreased privileges. The level that your child has achieved in a particular program does not carry over from one placement to the next. If he is moved, the process starts all over again.
At some facilities, you may have to sign permission for your child to receive services such as taking medications or having a haircut. For security reasons and space limitations, your child may only be allowed to keep a few changes of clothing. In some cases, your child may be required to wear a uniform. You might be able to bring food that is checked by staff first, depending on the facility. You may be allowed to bring your child books or cards. Be sure to mark everything with his name.
Having a child in the custody of DYC can be a stressful experience for the entire family. Try to find support for yourself. When you go to visit your child (and you should visit him regularly), you may meet other parents who are going through the same thing. You may be able to find a parent support group. Support groups can be helpful, especially in this instance, because so many people are going to pass judgment on you. It will be helpful to be able to talk to other parents who are going through a similar experience. Visiting days can also be stressful. You may want to share rides with other parents. This can give you someone to talk to, particularly if you have to travel long distances.