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19-1-102. Legislative declaration.

Statute text

(1) The general assembly declares that the purposes of this title are:

(a) To secure for each child subject to these provisions such care and guidance, preferably in his own home, as will best serve his welfare and the interests of society;

(b) To preserve and strengthen family ties whenever possible, including improvement of home environment;

(c) To remove a child from the custody of his parents only when his welfare and safety or the protection of the public would otherwise be endangered and, in either instance, for the courts to proceed with all possible speed to a legal determination that will serve the best interests of the child; and

(d) To secure for any child removed from the custody of his parents the necessary care, guidance, and discipline to assist him in becoming a responsible and productive member of society.

(1.5) (a) The general assembly declares that it is in the best interests of the child who has been removed from his own home to have the following guarantees:

(I) To be placed in a secure and stable environment;

(II) To not be indiscriminately moved from foster home to foster home; and

(III) To have assurance of long-term permanency planning.

(b) (Deleted by amendment, L. 92, p. 220, 1, effective July 1, 1992.)

(1.6) The general assembly recognizes the numerous studies establishing that children undergo a critical bonding and attachment process prior to the time they reach six years of age. Such studies further disclose that a child who has not bonded with a primary adult during this critical stage will suffer significant emotional damage which frequently leads to chronic psychological problems and antisocial behavior when the child reaches adolescence and adulthood. Accordingly, the general assembly finds and declares that it is appropriate to provide for an expedited placement procedure to ensure that children under the age of six years who have been removed from their homes are placed in permanent homes as expeditiously as possible.

(1.7) The general assembly further declares that it is the intent of the general assembly to have the media and the courts refrain from causing undue hardship, discomfort, and distress to any juvenile victims of sexual assault, child abuse, incest, or any offenses listed in wrongs to children pursuant to part 4 of article 6 of title 18, C.R.S., by not disseminating or publishing the names of such victims.

(1.9) The federal "Family First Prevention Services Act" was enacted on February 9, 2018. In order to comply with the provisions of the federal "Family First Prevention Services Act", the general assembly finds that it is necessary to update current statutes to enable Colorado to provide enhanced support to children, juveniles, or youth, and their families in order to prevent foster care placements. The state department of human services shall implement the updated provisions in this title 19 utilizing prevention services and qualified residential treatment programs when the federal government approves Colorado's five-year Title IV-E prevention plan, and subject to available general fund appropriations or federal funding.

(2) To carry out these purposes, the provisions of this title shall be liberally construed to serve the welfare of children and the best interests of society.


Source: L. 87: Entire title R&RE, p. 695, 1, effective October 1. L. 88: (1.5) added, p. 755, 1, effective May 31. L. 90: (1.7) added, p. 1007, 1, effective July 1. L. 92: (1.5) amended, p. 220, 1, effective July 1. L. 94: (1.6) added, p. 2051, 1, effective July 1. L. 2019: (1.9) added, (HB 19-1308), ch. 256, p. 2458, 2, effective August 2. L. 2020: (1.9) amended, (SB 20-162), ch. 221, p. 1087, 1, effective July 2; (1.9) amended, (HB 20-1402), ch. 216, p. 1047, 32, effective June 30.


Editor's note: (1) This section was contained in a title that was repealed and reenacted in 1987. This section, as it existed in 1987, is the same as 19-1-102 as said section existed in 1986, the year prior to the repeal and reenactment of this title.

(2) Amendments to subsection (1.9) by SB 20-162 and HB 20-1402 were harmonized.


Cross references: For the "Family First Prevention Services Act", see Pub.L. 115-123.





Law reviews. For article, "Juvenile Delinquency in Colorado: The Law's Response to Society's Need", see 31 Rocky Mt. L. Rev. 1 (1958). For article, "One Year Review of Criminal Law and Procedure", see 40 Den. L. Ctr. J. 89 (1963). For note, "Juvenile Delinquency -- Colorado's Unassumed Burden", see 36 U. Colo. L. Rev. 519 (1964). For article, "Children in Need: Observations of Practice of the Denver Juvenile Court", see 51 Den. L.J. 337 (1974). For comment, "Bastardizing the Legitimate Child: The Colorado Supreme Court Invalidates the Uniform Parentage Act Presumption of Legitimacy in R. McG. v. J.W.", see 59 Den. L.J. 157 (1981). For article, "The Role of Parents' Counsel in Dependency and Neglect Proceedings -- Part II", see 14 Colo. Law. 794 (1985).

Annotator's note. The following annotations include cases decided under former provisions similar to this section.

The provisions of this title must be read and construed together. To hold otherwise would open the door to endless confusion and a myriad of conflicting jurisdictional claims respecting the interests of children in this state. Geisler v. People in Interest of Geisler, 135 Colo. 121, 308 P.2d 1000 (1957).

The Colorado Children's Code must be liberally construed. People in Interest of M.K.A., 182 Colo. 172, 511 P.2d 477 (1973).

Provisions of the Children's Code should be liberally construed to accomplish the purpose and to effectuate the intent of the general assembly. R.M. v. District Court, 191 Colo. 42, 550 P.2d 346 (1976).

In the best interest of child and society. When the general assembly said that "this title shall be liberally construed", it meant that it should be construed favorably to the best interests of the child and society. City & County of Denver v. Juvenile Court, 182 Colo. 157, 511 P.2d 898 (1973); People in Interest of A.R.M., 832 P.2d 1093 (Colo. App. 1992).

Purpose of code. One of the underlying purposes of the Colorado Children's Code is to create distinction between adults and children who violate law. In re People in Interest of B.M.C., 32 Colo. App. 79, 506 P.2d 409 (1973).

The Colorado Children's Code's sole emphasis is on rehabilitating children, assisting them in becoming responsible and productive members of society, and preventing them, while at an impressionable and vulnerable age, from becoming criminals. People in Interest of M.C., 750 P.2d 69 (Colo. App. 1987), aff'd, 774 P.2d 857 (Colo. 1989).

The overriding purpose of the Colorado Children's Code is to protect the welfare and safety of Colorado children by providing procedures through which their best interests can be served. L.G. v. People, 890 P.2d 647 (Colo. 1995); People ex rel. C.M., 116 P.3d 1278 (Colo. App. 2005); People ex rel. B.C., 122 P.3d 1067 (Colo. App. 2005).

To this end, dependency or neglect proceedings focus primarily on the protection and safety of children susceptible to harm from the effect of abuse and neglect, not on the custodial interests of the parent. People ex rel. C.M., 116 P.3d 1278 (Colo. App. 2005); People ex rel. B.C., 122 P.3d 1067 (Colo. App. 2005).

The purposes of the Colorado Children's Code are quite different from the purposes of the Criminal Code, and an amendment furthering the purposes of one cannot be deemed invalid on the ground that such legislation is contrary to the purposes of the other. People v. Juvenile Court, 893 P.2d 81 (Colo. 1995).

The adoption of the Colorado Children's Code and the establishment of a juvenile court was based on a legislative conclusion that adjudication of issues arising from the conduct of young persons must focus on the protection and rehabilitation of such persons. But the Children's Code expressly recognizes the necessity of balancing the primary concern for protecting and nurturing young persons with concern for the safety of all members of society. People v. Juvenile Court, 893 P.2d 81 (Colo. 1995).

Consecutive commitments. Since the purposes of the Colorado Children's Code focus on the protection of society and the rehabilitation of the offender, such purposes may be fostered by the imposition of consecutive commitments. People in Interest of S.A.E., 724 P.2d 100 (Colo. App. 1986), overruled in S.G.W. v. People, 752 P.2d 86, (Colo. 1988).

State's interest relative to preventing delinquent children from becoming adult criminals is compelling. People in Interest of M.C., 750 P.2d 69 (Colo. App. 1987), aff'd, 774 P.2d 857 (Colo. 1989).

Prosecution of juveniles under municipal ordinance does not conflict with Colorado Children's Code and, although municipalities are not prohibited from adopting same procedures as Children's Code, municipalities are not required to follow such procedures. R.E.N. v. City of Colo. Springs, 823 P.2d 1359 (Colo. 1992).

Colorado Children's Code does not require that juvenile proceedings in municipal courts be civil in nature as Children's Code and ordinances of municipality on juvenile proceedings do not conflict. R.E.N. v. City of Colo. Springs, 823 P.2d 1359 (Colo. 1992).

Intent of general assembly that the Colorado Children's Code apply only to juvenile proceedings in juvenile court, and not to municipal court proceedings involving prosecution of juveniles under municipal ordinances. R.E.N. v. City of Colo. Springs, 823 P.2d 1359 (Colo. 1992).

Since a person under age 18 can only be charged with an offense in the manner permitted by the Colorado Children's Code, the county court had no jurisdiction to entertain or to dispose of the merits of the proceeding involving an offense alleged against a juvenile and was without authority to go further than merely dismissing the case without prejudice for lack of jurisdiction. People in Interest of C.O., 870 P.2d 1266 (Colo. App. 1994).

Public policy. The public policy of the state is to provide for a neglected and dependent child in a manner that will best serve his welfare and the interests of society. In re People in Interest of M.M., 184 Colo. 298, 520 P.2d 128 (1974); People in Interest of M.B., 188 Colo. 370, 535 P.2d 192 (1975).

The juvenile system is premised on the concept that a more informal, simple, and speedy judicial setting will best serve the needs and welfare of juvenile defendants. The designs of the juvenile system, however, must be tempered with procedural rules that recognize the children who commit serious offenses may need to be treated differently than other juveniles. J.T. v. O'Rourke ex rel. Tenth Judicial Dist., 651 P.2d 407 (Colo. 1982).

A parent has a fundamental liberty interest in the care, custody, and management of a child. However, that parental right to due process is subject to the power of the state to act in the child's best interest. People in Interest of M.H., 855 P.2d 15 (Colo. App. 1993).

Fundamental liberty interest in the care, custody, and management of a child not extended to stepparent. Absent substantial evidence that a stepparent stands in loco parentis to the child, there is no authority to extend a similar liberty interest to either a stepparent or a family unit created by the natural or adoptive parent and a stepparent. People ex rel. of E.S., 49 P.3d 1221 (Colo. App. 2002).

The state acts as parens patriae -- sovereign guardian -- to safeguard the interests of vulnerable children within the state. L.G. v. People, 890 P.2d 647 (Colo. 1995).

Termination of parental rights is drastic remedy in which a most serious interest of the parents is jeopardized. In re People in Interest of M.M., 184 Colo. 298, 520 P.2d 128 (1974).

Home care and guidance preferred. A neglected and dependent child's care and guidance should be preferably in his own home, so as to preserve and strengthen family ties. In re People in Interest of M.M., 184 Colo. 298, 520 P.2d 128 (1974).

Absent a showing of a causal relationship between such an environment and a serious threat to the emotional or physical stability of the child, public policy requires that the care and guidance of each child should remain with his parents and in his own home. People in Interest of D.L.R., 44 Colo. App. 327, 618 P.2d 687 (1980), rev'd on other grounds, 638 P.2d 39 (Colo. 1981).

As is maintenance of family ties. The general assembly has declared its preference for the maintenance of family ties whenever possible in subsection (1)(b). People in Interest of S.S.T., 38 Colo. App. 110, 553 P.2d 82 (1976).

Under this code, parties are precluded from stipulating restrictions upon court's duty to protect best interests of child. In re People in Interest of A.R.S, 31 Colo. App. 268, 502 P.2d 92 (1972).

Applied in Gibson v. People, 44 Colo. 600, 99 P. 333 (1908); Cruz v. Morley, 77 Colo. 25, 234 P. 178 (1925); Johnson v. People, 170 Colo. 137, 459 P.2d 579 (1969); Stjernholm v. Mazaheri, 180 Colo. 352, 506 P.2d 155 (1973); P.F.M. v. Dist. Court, 184 Colo. 393, 520 P.2d 742 (1974); Dept. of Insts. ex rel. S.L.G. v. Bushnell, 195 Colo. 566, 579 P.2d 1168 (1978); People in Interest of R.A.D., 196 Colo. 430, 586 P.2d 46 (1978); Lovato v. Dist. Court, 198 Colo. 419, 601 P.2d 1072 (1979); B.G. v. S.G., 199 Colo. 403, 609 P.2d 121 (1980); Villareal v. Lopez, 44 Colo. App. 555, 619 P.2d 86 (1980); People in Interest of C.A.K., 628 P.2d 136 (Colo. App. 1980); People in Interest of E.A., 638 P.2d 278 (Colo. 1981); People in Interest of D.L.E., 645 P.2d 271 (Colo. 1982); People in Interest of A.M.D., 648 P.2d 625 (Colo. 1982); People in Interest of S.P.B., 651 P.2d 1213 (Colo. 1982); People in Interest of C.A.K., 652 P.2d 603 (Colo. 1982); People v. Coyle, 654 P.2d 815 (Colo. 1982); People in Interest of M.H., 661 P.2d 1173 (Colo. 1983); People in Interest of A.J., 757 P.2d 1165 (Colo. App. 1988).