Track: Safety and Security
Commitment: Leading with Vision; Partnering with Purpose
North Star: Commitment to Outcomes; Strategic Partnerships

Format: Project-Based
Level of Learning: Doer

This workshop will present two sterling examples of work at the state and community levels to transform child welfare systems from reactive, child-safety only systems into proactive, prevention-focused systems that work to not only protect children from harm but also to prevent harm by strengthening child and family well-being.

The first example is efforts in Colorado to develop a maltreatment prevention framework and support communities throughout Colorado in using the framework to create local prevention plans and activities. In 2014, the Colorado Department of Human Services Office of Early Childhood, in partnership with Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, the federal Children’s Bureau, the Children’s Trust of South Carolina, the Child Abuse and Neglect Technical Assistance and Strategic Dissemination Center, and the Ben and Lucy Ana Walton Fund of the Walton Family Foundation, began working together to design a roadmap to serve as a national model for the prevention of child maltreatment. The governor unveiled the Colorado Child Maltreatment Prevention Framework for Action in April 2017.

The framework is designed as a tool to guide strategic thinking, align strategies, and maximize shared outcomes to prevent child maltreatment and promote child well-being at the state and local levels. It focuses on five protective factors:

  • Parental resilience
  • Social connections
  • Concrete support in times of need
  • Knowledge of parenting and child development
  • Social and emotional competence of children that strengthen all families and reduce the likelihood for child maltreatment

The framework will guide community planning to mobilize action that protects children, and then track implementation and measure progress. In 2017, community planning grants were awarded to 16 communities to create local child maltreatment prevention plans using the new framework. This initiative is supported by the Colorado Department of Human Services and the Zoma Foundation. Early Milestones Colorado is the lead agency supporting communities’ planning efforts. The workshop will describe the process of developing the framework and current efforts in the 16 communities.

The second half of the workshop will describe the process used in building a roadmap to child and family well-being in Monterey County, California, including the sponsorship approach and the use of the human services value curve. It will describe the fundamental principles of a transformed child welfare system within a public health framework. In 2018, Monterey County experienced two child murders and another severe child abuse event. The director of social services wanted to channel the outrage and mourning to action that mobilizes the community to not only work harder to prevent fatalities, but to improve communitywide child well-being. He recognized that child abuse and neglect occur in the context of a host of stressors that take a toll on child and family well-being and community systems: 

  • Overcrowded housing
  • Poverty
  • Community violence
  • Unstable employment opportunities

Therefore, a more meaningful system improvement process would strengthen the overall public and community-based systems. The county reached out to the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities’ Within Our Reach Office and the American Public Human Services Association for advice in transforming their human services systems. Using the recommendations from the National Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Deaths, a sponsorship team engaged with the county to develop a roadmap to child well-being. An assessment was completed, and the community has developed a multi-prong roadmap of very concrete and doable strategies that are within reach.  

The workshop will conclude with a discussion among attendees on how they can replicate the work of Monterey County and Colorado to begin assessments and develop their own strategies to transform their systems to improve child, family, and community well-being. 

Learning Objectives 

  • Be able to describe the characteristics of a 21st-century child welfare system built within a public health framework
  • Be able to incorporate principles from the human service value curve in designing an approach for change
  • Be able to describe how a sponsorship process can bring together multiple stakeholders including national, state, and community leaders to design and implement the road map


  • Theresa Covington, director of Within Our Reach, Alliance for Strong families and Communities
  • Kendra Dunne, child maltreatment prevention director, Colorado Department of Human Services Office of Early Childhood
  • Jennifer Kerr, organizational effectiveness consultant, American Public Human Services Association

Theresa Covington
Director of Within Our Reach
Alliance for Strong families and Communities

Teri Covington is the director of Within Our Reach, working to advance policy and practice recommendations at the federal and state levels from the National Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect. She managed the National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention for 15 years and established and managed the Michigan Child Death Review Program and CRP on fatalities for 8 years. She served on the National Commission to Eliminate Child abuse and Neglect Deaths. She has over 35 years’ experience in public health and child welfare, with an emphasis on prevention; and a master’s in public health from the University of Michigan.

Kendra Dunn
Child Maltreatment Prevention Director
Colorado Department of Human Services Office of Early Childhood

Kendra Dunn is the child maltreatment prevention director and director of the Colorado Children's Trust Fund for the Colorado Department of Human Services Office of Early Childhood. She serves as a member of the Early Childhood Colorado Partnership Steering Committee, is a member of the Early Childhood Communications Collaborative for the Early Childhood Leadership Commission, and acts as co-backbone for the Colorado Essentials for Childhood Project.

Dunn is the incoming board president for the National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds and a board member of the Colorado Children's Alliance. She has worked in the child maltreatment prevention field since 1993 and has a special interest in building the public will necessary to ensure healthy child development for all children. Dunn was previously the founding executive director for Prevent Child Abuse Colorado and worked for the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children. She is a certified trainer for several parenting and child abuse prevention curricula. She studied psychology at American University in Washington, D.C. and is a mother of two sons.

Jennifer Kerr
Organizational Effectiveness Consultant
American Public Human Services Association

Jennifer Kerr is an Organizational Effectiveness (OE) Consultant with the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA). As an OE Consultant, Jen facilitates change management projects throughout the United States and supports knowledge management by developing online learning tools.  Jen joined APHSA with 15 years of organization effectiveness, training development, curriculum design and IT project management experience where she has worked at a county child welfare agency, university and an IT consulting firm. Jen holds a Bachelor's of Science in Business Management from West Chester University and a Masters of Education / Counseling from Widener University.