Launched in May 2020 in partnership with Foster Source, CHAMPS Colorado is part of a national campaign to ensure quality parenting for all children in foster care. CHAMPS Colorado strives to ensure vulnerable kids are safe and thriving by promoting foster and kin families as a vital component of the child welfare system.

BACKGROUND

Recently passed federal legislation, the Family First Prevention Services Act, encourages states to move more kids in foster care from residential treatment to family-based settings. This will require more highly trained and committed foster parents to meet the need. Currently there are approximately 4,700 youth in care in Colorado, and approximately 1,600 certified foster/kin families.[1] It is also estimated that 70 percent of certified foster parents do not remain foster parents beyond the second year. CHAMPS Colorado seeks to fill this need and ensure all kids have an adequate family-based placement when they enter into care.

 

COUNTY ENGAGEMENT

During the first year, CHAMPS Colorado is working with pilot counties to address the need for well-equipped foster and kin families to support the children in the child welfare system. CHAMPS Colorado is developing the pilot project in collaboration with the counties and according to their needs and the needs of their foster and kin families. Areas of focus include: Certification and On-Going Training, Mentorship, Foster/Kin Family Support Groups, Recruitment and Retention Strategies, Advisory Councils and Collaboration with Foster and Kin Family Support Organizations.

 

STATE ENGAGEMENT

CHAMPS Colorado is also engaging at the state level with the Colorado Department of Human Services to provide a foster and kin family voice in implementation of child welfare policies. Colorado is engaging heavily in implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act and the state and counties are making critical decisions about how the child welfare system will function under this new law. Those decisions should be informed by the population impacted by the changes.

 

LEADERSHIP

Lindsay Gilchrist is a foster and adoptive parent in Denver County and the Director of CHAMPS Colorado working in close collaboration with Foster Source. Lindsay has worked for over a decade in the government and non-profit sectors advocating for positive public policy change both here in the United States and around the world. In 2012, Lindsay founded Gilchrist & Company with the mission to advance clients’ agendas through advocacy, policy research and analysis, strategic planning, communications support and political strategy. Lindsay previously worked for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, and she also worked as a Special Assistant to the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, providing recommendations for legislative and communications issues.

Lindsay was born and raised in Denver, Colorado and moved back to Denver in 2016 with her family. She volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) working with youth in foster care. She holds a Bachelor of the Arts in Political Science and Spanish from the University of San Diego and a Masters in Public Policy from UCLA.