Safe Start in the Community: Denver, Colo.

FB general coverThroughout the month we will feature the 10 Safe Start Promising Approaches grantees and the work they’re doing in their communities to help children exposed to violence and their families.

Louisa was born into a family wrought with drug addiction, sexual abuse and criminal involvement. She lived with her mother, but when her mother was in jail or using drugs, Louisa stayed with whichever family member she could. At age 3, Louisa’s grandfather abused her sexually; at age 14, her sister gave her to an older man in exchange for a place to stay. Louisa had one child with this man and suffered years of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. At 18, Louisa left the man but soon found herself in another abusive relationship. She used drugs, had two more children, and began helping her boyfriend sell drugs. Her children witnessed the physical and drug abuse and sometimes had to stay with other family members when Louisa was not around. Louisa found herself repeating the life her mother had lived.

Louisa was caught smuggling drugs for her boyfriend. After serving a few months in jail, and with the threat of facing another 6 years of incarceration, she came to Denver Adult Probation Department to serve a 2-year probation sentence. At the start of her sentence, Louisa asks for help to maintain sobriety and help for her children because of the violence they have seen.

Louisa and her family enroll in the Denver Safe Start Promising Approaches research study. They attend all 10 sessions of the Strengthening Families Coping Resources program, and Louisa meets weekly with her law enforcement advocate (LEA) for additional support. Sometimes her LEA takes the family to dinner or the park. Louisa implements a weekly family night and a chore system and 3 months later is maintaining both routines. Her kids attend school regularly, and Louisa returns to school for her GED. Louisa is still sober after almost 6 months and engages in weekly therapy to help understand her own trauma and how to heal her wounds.

Louisa is breaking her cycle of violence and providing her children with the possibility of a drug-free, violence-free life.

Denver Juvenile Probation Department
Juvenile & Family Integrated TASC Project
303 West Colfax Avenue, #1401
Denver, CO 80204


Links a variety of systems such as courts, police, probation, and substance abuse treatment to serve drug-endangered families. Provides recovery, support, and prevention services to families to break the inter-generational cycles of drug abuse and criminal involvement.

Target Population:

Families with children

Age Range:



  • Strengthening Families Coping Resources*
  • Law Enforcement Advocate
  • Case Management
  • Outpatient Substance Abuse Treatment Interventions*

*Evidence-based or promising practice


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