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Human Services

Department of human services
frequently asked questions


Q. How do I get emancipated and/or how do I emancipate my son or daughter?

There is no early emancipation law in Colorado. A parent is legally and financially responsible until the youth reaches age 18, enters the Military or is married (must have parental consent for both if under age 18).

Food Assistance

Q. Can someone contact Human Services by phone and be told if they are eligible for Food Assistance?

No. It is not possible to accurately determine eligibility without having a potential recipient complete an application. In this way, all of the eligibility factors can be correctly considered and a potential recipient is not inadvertently misinformed about their eligibility.

Q. What can be purchased with Food Assistance benefits?

  • Foods for human consumption.
  • Seeds and plants to grow food for household use.

Q. What cannot be purchased with Food Assistance benefits?

  • Any non-food item such as pet food; soaps, paper products, and household supplies; grooming items and cosmetics.
  • Alcoholic beverages or tobacco products.
  • Vitamins and medicines.
  • Any food that will be eaten in the store.
  • Any food marketed to be heated in the store

Q. Who can receive Food Assistance benefits?

You may be eligible to receive Food Assistance benefits, whether or not you work, if you have a low income.

Q. What is the amount of Food Assistance benefits I will receive?

The amount of Food Assistance benefits a low-income person or family can receive is based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Thrifty Food Plan. The plan estimates how much it costs to provide a household with nutritious, low-cost meals. The estimates are revised every year to keep pace with changes in food prices. The average amount of Food Assistance benefits received per household is about $85 per month. Visit the USDA Pre-Screening Tool for more information.

Colorado Works/TANF

Q. Must I participate with the Colorado Works Program and work activities to be eligible to receive a money payment from TANF?

Yes, you will work with your Colorado Works Case Manager to find work activities that will meet your needs and employment goals.

Q. I just got a job that requires I provide my own tools. Can Colorado Works assist in paying for these?

Yes, if you provide all of the verification that supports the need for the tools and you are under 185% of the Federal Poverty Level.

Q. If my husband and I are both unemployed, and he is the father of my children, can we apply for TANF?

Yes, as long as your income and resources are within the Federal guidelines.

Child Welfare

Q. How do I report child abuse?

You can report child abuse to the El Paso County Department of Human Services on the Child Abuse Hotline, which is staffed 24 hours per day seven days per week.  The number is 719-444-5700.  You may also email your report to

Q. When should I call the Hotline?

You should call the child abuse hotline whenever you believe that a person who lives with the child or is caring for the child and has caused injury or harm or put the child at risk of physical injury.  Some examples could include:

  • If you see marks on a child’s body that do not appear to have been caused by an accident.
  • If a child tells you that he or she has been touched inappropriately or harmed by someone.
  • If a child appears to be dressed inappropriately for the weather, appears undernourished or is young and has been left home alone.

Q. Who should report child abuse?

While everyone should report suspected child abuse and neglect, C.R.S. 19-3-304 states that persons required to report child abuse or neglect are designated mandated reporters and subject to a class 3 misdemeanor punishable as provided in section 18-1.3-501 C.R. S. for failure to report.  Persons required reporting such abuse or neglect or circumstances or conditions shall include any:

  • Physician or surgeon, including a physician in training;
  • Child Health Associate
  • Medical Examiner or Coroner
  • Dentist
  • Osteopath
  • Optometrist
  • Chiropractor
  • Chiropodist or podiatrist;
  • Registered nurse or licensed practical nurse;
  • Hospital personnel engaged in the admission, care or treatment or patients;
  • Christian science practitioner;
  • Public or private school official or employee;
  • Social worker or worker in any facility or agency that is licensed or certified pursuant to part 1 or article 6 of title 26, C.R.S.;
  • Mental Heath Professional
  • Dental Hygienist
  • Psychologist
  • Physical therapist
  • Veterinarian
  • Peace officer as described in section 16-2.5-101, C.R.S.;
  • Pharmacist;
  • Commercial film and photographic print processor as provided in subsection (2.5) of this section;
  • Firefighter as defined in section 18-3-201 (1), C.R.S.;
  • Victim’s advocate, as defined in section 13-90-107 (1) (k) (II), C.R.S.;
  • Licensed professional counselors;
  • Licensed marriage and family therapists;
  • Unlicensed psychotherapists;
  • (1) Clergy member;
  • Registered dietician;
  • Worker in the state department of human services;
  • Juvenile parole and probation officers;
  • Child and family investigators;
  • Officers and agents of the state bureau of animal protection, and animal control officers.
  • Any commercial film and photographic print processor who has knowledge of or observes, within the scope of his or her professional capacity views information depicting a child engaged in an act of sexual conduct

Q. What information should I include in my report?

The Hotline screening staff who answer your call will ask you for as much information as you can provide about the suspected abuse or maltreatment and the family about which you are calling.  Even if you have very little information available, please call the Child Abuse Hotline.  You will be asked about the nature and extent of the child’s injuries or the risk of harm to the child.  It will be important to have the child’s name, home address, age and school that they attend.  You will also be asked the name and address of the parent or other person legally responsible who caused the injury or created the risk of harm to the child.  Some other helpful information will include the name and addresses of the child’s siblings and parents if it is different from the information provided above. 

Q. What is the difference between discipline and abuse? 

If the use of discipline is excessive or forceful enough to leave injuries, physical abuse has occurred.  The use of instruments, such as a belt or kitchen implement, increases the likelihood of injuries.  The intent of the reporting law is not to interfere with appropriate parental discipline but to respond to extreme or inappropriate discipline which appears to be abusive.  Reasonable and age appropriate spanking to the buttocks where there is no evidence of physical injury does not constitute abuse.


Q. Must I have a face to face interview to apply for Medicaid?

No, if you are only applying for Medicaid, you can mail your application to Human Services.

Adoption Unit

Q. How can I get a copy of my birth certificate?

In general you may obtain a certified copy of a birth certificate by writing or visiting the Bureau of Vital Statistics in the State where you were born. For a complete listing of addresses by State, we recommend that you visit this website: National Center for Health Statistics or Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment. Costs and requirements vary, so review the instructions on the web site first. If you were born in El Paso County, the number for Vital Records is 719-575-8492.

Q. I am interested in adoption.  How can I get started?

El Paso County's Department of Human Services contracts with nine Child Placement Agencies (CPA) in the area for foster care, group home care and adoptive homes.  For more information please contact one of the nine Child Placement Agencies.

Q. My adopted child is asking questions about his/her biological parents.  How can we get in touch with them?

If your child was adopted through El Paso County Department of Human Services, we may be able to assist in locating biological parents.  We often times receive and send messages back and forth between adoptive and biological parents.  If your child was adopted elsewhere, we have a packet of materials we can send you that may assist in locating biological parents.  You can also inquire through the Colorado Confidential Intermediary Program (303-237-6919 or visit their website at

Q. If I have had guardianship of my grandchild, how do I go about adoption at this point? 

In El Paso County, there is a clinic held at the courthouse (270 S. Tejon) once a month that you can attend to learn how to proceed on your own in the adoption process.  This clinic will give you information regarding required paperwork and the process to adopt. There is also a self-help room on the first floor of the courthouse.  Another option is to consult with an attorney to assist in the process.  The only adoptions that the Department of Human Services completes are those that have an open service case (not TANF case) within the Department. 

Additional Adoption Links