Children, Youth and Families

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Children and Youth Behavioral Health Implementation Plan


Following stakeholder meetings, gathering hundreds of testimonies and input, system review, launching a new state department and boldly auditing the behavioral health system, the Behavioral Health Administration has released the Colorado Children and Youth Behavioral Health Implementation Plan. This plan lays out the pathway to access care for children and youth in Colorado. Children and youth have unique needs, experience unique challenges, and require unique supports and interventions; mental health and substance use services for children and youth cannot be a mirror of adult services. The State of Colorado is setting up services and supports for all children and youth and setting expectations for collaboration across state agencies, payers and providers to build a comprehensive, equitable, effective continuum of mental health and substance use services.

View a summary of the plan, as well as a presentation about the plan's priorities.

For more information, contact Matt Holtman at matt.holtman@state.co.us.



The vision for the children and youth behavioral health system in Colorado is to be a comprehensive, equitable, effective continuum of behavioral health services that meets the needs of children and youth in the right place, at the right time, to achieve whole person health and wellbeing.

This means Colorado's children and youth receive the treatment and support services they need to thrive in their community. To achieve this vision, state agencies need to work in unison and support efforts to:

  • Promote the well-being of children and youth;
  • Establish a comprehensive continuum of behavioral health services;
  • Create the foundation for a system of care framework unique to Colorado;
  • Reduce barriers to access and affordability of care;
  • Support a competent and adequate workforce; and
  • Have accountability and oversight to ensure a quality behavioral health system.


The Children’s Behavioral Health Implementation Plan has more than 100 action items for state agencies. It identifies and addresses the most immediate priorities to be addressed within one to two years:

  • Create a governance structure in BHA that utilizes the various committees, councils and work groups addressing child and youth behavioral health.
  • Develop a set of services to meet the needs of youth with high acuity behavioral health.
  • Create policy that increases investment in promotion and prevention efforts.
  • Create an implementation plan specific to the delivery of intensive in-home and community-based services.
  • Create the necessary policies that support the formation of Affordable Care Collaborative Phase III.
  • Successful roll out the Behavioral Health Administrative Service Organizations (BHASO) system by July 2025.

Resources for families

The following resources are available for families with children, youth and young adults.


I Matter

I Matter provides free behavioral health sessions for Colorado youth ages 18 or younger or 21 or younger if receiving special education services.

Substance use prevention

Through prevention and intervention programs, we work with our community partners to improve access to substance use help.

Crisis Resolution Teams

Crisis Resolution Teams provide families of youth and young adults with intensive, short-term, in-home services and ongoing supports.



Colorado's Children and Youth Mental Health Treatment Act (CYMHTA) allows families to access mental health treatment.

COACT Colorado

COACT is Colorado's system of care for children and youth with behavioral health challenges and their families.

Ascent Colorado

Ascent Colorado provides treatment and support to youth and young adults who have experienced an onset of psychotic spectrum illness.