Late last month, Minna Castillo Cohen took the helm as director of Colorado’s Office of Children, Youth and Families (OCYF), an agency that oversees child welfare, youth services and domestic violence for the state.
“As I step into this new position, I look forward to continued collaboration at the state and local level with county human service agencies and community partners to implement strategies, initiatives and programs developed to improve the lives of our state’s young people and their caregivers,” wrote Castillo Cohen in an email to The Chronicle of Social Change. “I’m also very much looking forward to working with and learning from the skilled and dedicated staff and the people we serve through our Child Welfare, Department of Youth Services and Domestic Violence Program teams.”
Prior to joining OCYF, Castillo Cohen spent 20 years in the nonprofit sector, most recently as vice president of community impact at Mile High United Way in Denver. She has worked on immigrant and refugee issues, substance use prevention, bicultural competence, and mentoring, according to the OCYF statement.
“I will draw upon skills gained through past experiences and continue to work in partnership with nonprofits, government, business and community members to implement policies, practices and programs that improve outcomes and create opportunities for Colorado’s children, youth and families,” Castillo Cohen wrote in an email.
Earlier this year the state launched a campaign to recruit more foster parents, citing a shortage of families. In the next two years, Colorado Department of Human Services (DHS) plans to recruit an additional 1,200 new foster parents. Currently the state has about 2,000 foster parents, and especially needs Hispanic, black, LGBTQ and American Indian families, according to a DHS press release.
Just a few weeks into her position, Castillo Cohen credits her predecessor with creating “a strong list of priority items that I believe in, and so I will focus the efforts of our divisions within OCYF to see those goals to fruition,” she said.